By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Late last week, the mayor's missives to Baltic Street were coming in fast and furious and in contradiction. The first 30-day notice to move, filed by the city on December 22, was rescinded on the afternoon of the 29th. But by the morning of the 30th, it was reinstated. In between, there was speculation that the city would give SBPC and Families First more time to move and help finding a new place. But in the end, the order to move out by January 31 remains.
Sources say the confusion from City Hall was caused by twinges of conscience within the administration or at least the realization that the mayor had taken an ugly public stance that were ultimately overruled by the administration's compulsion to punish and make good on its threats.
"A few people in the administration are probably a little bit embarrassed and upset and they might have been in contact with the state" whose Office of Mental Health funds the Baltic Street clinic "and told them that they were screwing them on orders of the mayor," says a source close to the situation. "They might have persuaded City Hall officials to say, 'Hey, this is heavy-handed. Why don't we rescind the eviction and say they don't have to leave by January 31, but we'll work with them to leave later?' . . . But finally [deputy mayor Joe] Lhota overrode that, and they decided to plunge forward."
The confusion has left state mental health officials saying only that they extend "assurances that, however this plays out, we will continue to offer services." On Baltic Street, one source described being in a position not unlike that of a negotiator in a hostage taking:
"We're really not saying much because we want to give the mayor room to get out of this gracefully. But we're terrified to provoke him, and that then, he won't move at all. It's such a horrible double-whammy."