NYC Residents: Please Attend 6:00 PM Meeting Today to Bar Real Estate Board Plan to Block #OccupyWallStreet Protests

So the top 1% now want to revoke the Constitution, it appears, or at least the right to public assembly. This story ran earlier in the week on WNYC:

Property owners are moving to change an old zoning law that has allowed anti-Wall Street protesters to camp out in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan around the clock.

A 1960’s era zoning rule gave developers zoning concessions in return for building public plazas that would be accessible 24 hours a day. This rule has since changed so that new privately built public spaces may close overnight; however, the plazas built under the earlier rule were not affected and still kept open 24 hours.

Real Estate Board President Steve Spinola said his organization, which represents institutions and people involved in NY real estate, will request a zoning change that will allow those plazas built under the 1961 rule to close at 1 a.m. “I do believe that plazas should have the right to shut down at a certain time because they were not meant for camping out,” he said

The good news is the story adds, “…changing the rule retroactively for plazas built under the old rule is expected to be a lengthy legal process.”

Nevertheless, this is clearly an effort to shut down Occupy Wall Street. The meeting tonight is not that of the full committee; this is of the “Quality of Life” subcommittee, which is apparently not happy with the protests. Their complaints are two fold. The first is that there is drumming at night, which bothers people who live in the area. I find this objection disingenuous, since when I visited OWS, there had been for at least a week street repairs that started right before the General Assembly every afternoon involving jackhammers. It was a clear move by the city to interfere with OWS. There is no way any drumming is louder than the jackhammers.

The second complaint is that there is alleged defecation. That’s because there are pretty much no bathrooms available when local merchants close at night and the city has refused to allow OWS to rent Port-a-Potties.

In addition, Steven Spinola is the long time head of REBNY seems to take an unduly proprietary attitude toward New York City public space. The REBNY is influential because virtually all real estate agents at brokerage firms are required to join. Spinoza is known for trying to push a right wing agenda through the REBNY; during the health care fight, for instance, he sent frequent anti-reform rants and action steps to the membership.

If you live in the area, pleas attend the meeting and tell them that these problems should go to Bloomberg and the head of the Department of Transportaion, Jeannette Sadik-Kahn, who have refuse to let OWS have facilities as a way of shutting them down.

The meeting details. OWS appears to be the first agenda item, so try to be on time:

Combined Quality of Life and Financial District Committees – 6:00 PM
Location: New York State Assembly Hearing Room
250 Broadway, 19th Floor
1) Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park – Discussion and possible resolution

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  1. YankeeFrank

    What a bunch of cowards. The only way they know how to play is using “lawyer-ball”. Its clear the people are going to have to start breaking the “law” in order to obtain justice. I guess that’s been clear for a while, but hopefully more and more people are starting to get the message now.

  2. YankeeFrank

    On that note, we should really start teaching people what the real rules are with regard to jury nullification. Judges and prosecutors will tell you its illegal of course, but finding people innocent despite technical “guilt”, has a long tradition when protesting against unjust laws. If the law is wrong jury nullification provides a way to make that clear. We must start educating people in this very effective method of non-violent protest.

    1. Nathanael

      Absolutely true.

      Another thing people should know about is the powers of and purpose of grand juries. Prosecutors and judges routinely lie to grand juries.

      Grand juries are actually supposed to investigate crimes on their own and indict anyone they find responsible for crimes (even people the prosecutors want to let off the hook).

      And another grand jury matter: secrecy. When the prosecutor brings a case to a grand jury, the grand jury is supposed to prohibit the prosecutor from seeing the evidence presented to the grand jury. This is so witnesses will be free to tell the grand jury that the prosecutor is lying or mistaken, that the arrested person is innocent, without fear of the prosecutor harrassing the witness. This is the purpose of grand jury secrecy.

      Grand juries aren’t run like that any more; they’ve been completely subverted.

  3. Bill

    The more the “establishment” squawks about OWS , the better I like it . They must be hitting nerves ? May the spirit of the movement grow , to the “palace lawn” , and to the countryside.

    1. Carla

      …”to the palace lawn” —

      I say “to the cake. Go straight to cake.” And I say, “Cram it down their throats until they admit they get the message and beg for mercy.” Because so far, there’s no evidence that a one of them has ever admitted to having heard of Marie Antoinette.

  4. Silas Barta

    I’m *pretty* sure it’s not a new thing for a zoning board or neighborhood association to pass/enforce rules that infringe on the noble American tradition of free assembly.

      1. Silas Barta

        I don’t think I was nitpicking … it’s just that there seem to be two Americas: one where people are supposed to have some magnificent right of free assembly, and another where neighborhood associations remove it. But they’re the same world! So why the selective outrage?

  5. readerOfTeaLeaves

    I hope that people will turn out. Land use related issues are where the rubber meets the road in any community, and they are fundamental to civic fiscal health and civic engagement.

    Realtors are always on commissions, boards, and councils.
    I think it’s a Law of Nature ;-)
    Those that I’ve dealt with have tended to be ideologues.

    However, retroactively changing a law is often a can of worms.

    — Find out what the local codes and regs are.
    — Find out which city staff implement or oversee them to be sure that your understanding of the codes and regs are clear.
    — Find out who all the members of the board are, and why they’re there.
    — Find out any and all *specific* LEGAL meanings of ‘plaza’, and the history of **why** those original 1961 policies were put in place.
    After all, if they’ve been working okay until 1961, but now because of #OWS someone wants to retroactively change them, then this is really a bigger issue of public space and public resources. If those underlying issues remain unaddressed, it will just spiral into a bigger hairball.

    It looks like Steve Spinola and his fanboys are going to argue that #OWS is a safety and crime hazard.

    There are studies (Denver comes to mind) about what happens when a city has no vibrant evening life: it empties out and is actually more vulnerable to crime because there are not enough ‘eyes and ears’ around to keep an eye on things. He probably just wants the DFH out, so he’s looking for a specific short-term solution that probably has some other bad outcomes the Board actually needs to take a tougher look at.

    I hope people show up to that meeting and have an informative, engaging evening. Good luck!

    1. EH

      It would certainly be an eye-opener if someone ran the numbers on the crime rates in the area over the past month vs. month-to-month or year-over-year. The BS arrests by the cops can be easily excluded.

  6. Francois T

    Mr. Spin-This-Fama, as well as Jeanette Sadistic-Canned does not seems to understand that they’re putting their hands in a hornet’s nest. Unless they live in a cave under the NYC subway, they should be aware that OWS is international news.

    Not very smart to try to smear your own city like that by playing amateur untersturmführer.

  7. Dave of Maryland

    Jackhammers, by the way, are loud because they have no mufflers. Which are cheap, by the way. Why Americans have persisted with LOUD jackhammers, why the men who use them permit themselves to go deaf, escapes me.

    The sound a jackhammer makes is not the sound of the tool hitting the pavement. It’s the sound of the piston inside slamming back and forth and the air that drives it escaping. In Paris, mufflers have long been required. It amounts to a second air hose running back to the compressor.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Dave;
      The best explanation I’ve heard was from a NamVet of my aquaintance who opined that it was because the jackhammer sound reminds one of a 50cal. machine gun in action. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning…”

  8. Nick

    The Occupy Melbourne campsite in City Square, Melbourne, Australia, is currently being evacuated by riot and mounted police.

  9. aeolius

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
    The message of 99% and 1% is universally recognized by the 99% all over the world.
    And the 1% get it and are frantically trying to stamp it
    Watching to see what happens as Spock said will be interesting

  10. SH

    I’m not for or against OWS. I live in a western state, or BLM state and don’t have to deal with public sewage either, but from personal experience over many years, once I hit a forest road on BLM property I always justify to myself camping, because it’s “public lands, we own it”. It’s different, but maybe not.

    Secondly, this quote has itched me since I read it a couple of days ago. From “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” edited by Clayborne Carson, MLK in the early stages of the Montgomery Bus Boycott stated that

    “… the city fathers and the bus official felt that it would fizzle out in a few days. They were certain that the first rainy day would the Negroes back the on the buses. But the first rainy day can and passed and the buses remained empty.”

    I actually see this as prescient, except that boycott is different from occupation. I have no opinion and I randomly pick books to read so it may well have been Trotsky’s philosophy which I picked up last time, but now I’m on MLK. I see occupation as slightly different from a boycott. There is no cost incurred by OWS today and 99% of MLK’s Montgomery was on board when OWS today has over represented.

    My comments are going nowhere fast. I’m just a stupid neophyte. Good Luck,


    1. Carla

      Scott, you’re not a stupid neophyte. I’m going to take a chance and guess that no matter where you live, you’re part of the 99%.


      The 1% has the money, and we have everything else: ourselves, each other, our productive capacity as human beings….against us, they are nothing. All they have is “money.” Money is a function of law. Money is nothing but an idea. With this idea, the 1% control the 99%.

      Hey, Scott, are you ready to roll? It’s time to support the Occupation in any way we can.

      1. SH

        You gotta keep the fun going for me Carla because I won’t. I have my own ideas on how to deal with this mess and they’re not social. I kinda want to be the .00001% as in me. You co-opted me and I’m not going to relent freely on that. I’m also male, the 51%, or any other percentage you want to describe people other than money. The % that pay their mortgages, or I’m 100% human. In my opinion, it’s co-opting. Good luck and I wish you the best.

      2. Ian Ollmann

        The funny thing about the 1% is that it is actually less than that. To be in the top 1%, you needed an income of $308k in 2010. That is large, but certainly within easy reach for some professionals (doctor, attorney, consultant, engineers with IPOs) who wield no more power or influence, and are not more influential than the plumber down the street. These people also pay the highest net tax rates in the country and are probably not enjoying special perks beyond those simply granted by their robust incomes.

        1. Nathanael

          The correct term really should be the “0.1%”. They’re the ones who are getting away with outrageous amounts of money.

          Unfortunately, that’s not quite as bumper-sticker catchy.

    1. Jim Haygood

      WINS 1010 AM (a news station in NYC) aired a report this morning about the hearing.

      They devoted a 30-second clip to an OWS opponent, who denounced protestors who make noise, don’t pay taxes, trash the neighborhood, demonize the poor police who just observed the 9/11 anniversary, etc.

      I waited for the clip from the other side … but THERE WASN’T ONE.

      Always the same garbage from our suck-ass MSM. Deprogram 1010 WINS from your car radio.

      1. Tim

        Make a list of the advertisers on WINS.
        If you support OWS, boycott the advertisers. Go one step further and call or email their corporate offices or local offices and tell they why you are boycotting them, they are advertising on a station that supports the 1% who can then buy their products.

      2. Wendy

        1010WINS is always pretty right-wing, especially John Montone.

        Follow @DiceyTroop on Twitter for real-time minutes of OWS general assembly meetings.

        The drumming sHould be limited to being a seasoning, rather than an independent dish.

  11. Gerard Pierce

    The powers that be will eventually find ways to make Occupy protests much more difficult. It’s worth the struggle to prevent this from happening, but the protests can continue.

    The coming revolution won’t be based on votes, it won’t be based on campaign bribes and it won’t be based on guns. If it’s is successful, it will be based on changing the minds of those who are upholding the current system.

    Even the almost-1% have family, children and others they care about. It’s become very clear that the current system is as much of a danger to these people as it is to the poor and the students.

    A park is not the only place that can be occupied.

    We have yet to occupy a police departments or the military. Once it has been attempted, the response of TPTB will do more to educate those people than we can currently dream.

    The American Revolution was won in peoples minds long before the first shot was fired.

    A modest example:

    What happens when a few hundred people show up at an airport wearing blazers with the letters TS-99% (in large type on the back) and quietly and politely ask various travelers if they will take off all of their clothes?

    No claim of authority – in fact a disavowal) – combined with a suggestion that anyone patriotic would obviously be willing to get naked in the middle of the airport.

    Passing out copies of the constitution, the bill of rights and an explanation of Jury Nullification could be done at the same time. The result would be educational and would raise some interesting 1st Amendment issues.

    It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to get peoples attention and get them to think. Filming the arrests should be educational and highly entertaining.

    If we can’t vote the bums out, perhaps we can laugh them out of town.

      1. ambrit

        Mz Ackermann;
        Not to worry. If Team America do indeed do anything as stupid as to wax belligerant with Iran say, or Pakistan, that job will be done pro bono for us. The counterparties will also most probably sub the job out. Lots of ‘independant contractors’ out there. Some of them trained by us!

    1. curlydan

      Occupy Kansas City was told that they could get a “tent permit” for their site, but the permit would cost $3,750/month plus insurance. Needless to say, tents are no longer an option, and it’s getting cold.

      So yes, the bureaucracy is chipping away at OWS and other groups.

      1. Tim

        That’s the Koch Brothers billionaire influence in their HQ city which is Kansas City. How about occupying the
        public street in front of their building?

    1. ambrit

      The spirit of Col. Blimp lives on.
      Calling all skippys. What’s the thinking about this in Oz? Man (and/or woman) in the street response?
      (Full, grovelling apologies for this one, but;) They’ll ‘roo’ the day they started this crackdown.

        1. ambrit

          Dear skippy;
          Just looked at the entire video you linked to. Couldn’t but think, at first look, that it was a line of ants moving back and forth, carrying food to the nest. Wonderful visual analogy. The protesters used classic non-violent tactics. A lot like the late 60’s as you mentioned.
          Seeing that, it got me to wondering, what the 2012 Dem convention in Charlotte wil be like. Good fun for all?

    2. Nathanael

      Stupid Melbourne Police.

      I don’t know the numbers in Melbourne or the mood in Australia, but when this has been tried in countries as fed up as the US… the protestors just came back in larger numbers.

  12. Richard Kline

    As a side note and aggregating from comments above, folks, remember that this is Occupy together. Chicago, Denver, Tucson, San Francisco, Melbourne all muscled out by the police. Sacramento, Cincinnati, Seattle, many others dismantled, pressured, holding ground under (at times very polite but distinct) police harassment. Many places to not have the numbers or material advantages of Base Camp in Zuccotti, but folks on the ground are holding on and coming out. All need support, and the first-best support you give is your attention and encouragement; it’s hard to do these things thinking oneself alone.

    Remember to comment and endorse other Zones of Occupation in your day and week: we’re all in this together even if different places are on point on a given day.

    1. Ker

      Hi — stopped by Occupy Tucson on the way home last night and there was maybe twenty-thirty campers in Military Plaza Park. Made note to self to make a donation via their website.

  13. andrew hartman

    nobody in the neighborhood likes the OWS people: not street vendors,
    renters, home owners, shopkeepers, etc.

    throw the occupiers out of the park.

    1. lambert strether

      First, I bet the food vendors like them a lot; see here for an example of a food vendor giving a reporter a battery recharge.

      Second, last I checked, “liking” or not liking peoople didn’t have much to do with evicting or not-evicting people from space.

      Third, numbers please? I thought Zucotti was an urban canyon. OWS imposes an 11 PM curfew. How many neighbors are there, really, and living in Manhattan as they do, do they really expect to hear birds tweeting and brooks babbling in the morning?

      1. LeeAnne

        I live on Amsterdam Avenue where ambulances, fire engines, NYPD vehicles and every half assed Un visitor to Columbia University and to Clinton and assorted others in Harlem whiz by with new high pitched sirens tweeting their newness and sounding like we are already under military occupation.

        Drumming is worse.

        1. LeeAnne

          But, more to the point. OWS is missing an opportunity to demand the right of free assembly be returned as per our United State Constitution.

          And demand the Courts strike down our royal Mayor’s military federal occupation marshal law right to break the law be stricken down including his edict that require United State Citizens apply for an application for a permit to assemble for any reason.

          And demand, furthermore, removal of the right of NYPD or any other authority to kettle (imprison with portable plastic fencing) anyone for any reason; outlaw the god damn things.

    2. altoid

      My daughter lives in the neighborhood of OWS, about three blocks away. She says she went to the plaza, talked to folks, and was impressed with the sense of purpose they showed. She now is in support of the OWS movement.

    3. Elizabeth

      Yeah, I have to agree with the poster who said it’s not as if Lower Manhattan is an idyllic country setting to begin with. It’s a cityscape, and people understand that when they move in, and even pay a lot of money for the conveniences that provides. So — within limits, of course — accept that you don’t get to impose a whole lot of quality-of-life demands on the Financial District. Also, unlike the kind of of in-your-face protesters that New York usually seems to breed like bunnies, these people are committed to the highest degree of social responsibility. Work with them, and they will work with you.

      1. LeeAnne

        This ‘its so noisy, a little more noise should be tolerated’ is fine for people who envy New Yorkers living in Manhattan.

        There is already very little respect for noise control in Manhattan. The worse offenders are authorities.

        Noise ordinances make city living possible. Without them, it is not possible. And furthermore there is no more efficient and civilized way of living than in the center of a great (once great) city.

        1. OMG!

          OMG! The noise! It’s so horrible! I pay good money to live here! F*** the Constitution! F*** the rule of law! For the love of God, just ban those stinky peasants!

  14. lambert strether

    I can’t help but wonder whether the drumming issue, which caused so much controversy at the NYCGA last night, has anything to do with this upcoming meeting, because noise complaints are exactly the sort of pretext that could be used for a shutdown.

    1. craazyman

      I love OWS, been 3 times, given 60 bucks and plan another visit this weekend to write my restaurant review of the Soul Kitchen, what I call their food area.

      But those drummers annoy the living sh*t out of me. If I lived down there, I’d be supportive of OWS just as I am now but I wouldn’t like the drummers all day long. I can only imagine if I had to listen to that racket in the background trying to read and relax at home.

      What do those drummers have to do with OWS or income/wealth inequality? Nothing. They’re there just because they’re out of control Dionysian noise makers who think everyone should be delighted by their non-stop bedlam.

      I mean, OK, they are pretty good and I do kind of like their sound, but in doses, in doses. :)

      1. Elizabeth

        Aren’t there noise ordinances on the books? That would be the proper way to solve that problem — not shutting down public space at night.

  15. Susan the other

    I doubt this post got any takers because the problem is we do not trust them in the first place.

Comments are closed.