Our Harry Siegel, who has been in Zuccotti Park since 9:00 PM last night, just phoned in to pose this question: “Does anyone really think this was Brookfield’s decision?”
Here’s what Harry is wondering right now:
“Mayor Bloomberg, finding almost no political support for his plan to “clean” and thus clear Zuccotti Park, made a rare eleventh-hour reversal. But the administration’s assertion this morning that Brookfield Properties made an independent decision late last night to postpone a “scheduled cleaning” is tough to take at face value.
If Brookfield did in fact let the mayor’s office know last night, why was it not announced until this morning, after more than 2,000 people had gathered in Zuccotti Park?
Will City Hall release the letter they say they received from the company? [CORRECTION: It’s an email, not a letter, and it was sent to press members before this post went up, though I did not receive it for unclear reasons. The email is time-stamped 11:33 p.m., more than six hours before the administration made it public.]
And will City Hall offer anything other than the email to back up the rather incredible suggestion that Brookfield, not Bloomberg, made the decision?”
[Harry Siegel UPDATE, 9:05 a.m.]:Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson forwarded an email asking these questions to Deputy Press Secretary Marc LaVorgna, who clarified that Brookfield’s email had been made public. LaVorgna did not, however, respond to repeated requests to answer the other two questions. We’ll update again if he does eventually respond.
[Steven Thrasher UPDATE, 8:35 AM]: Appearing on John Gambling’s show as he does every Friday morning, Mayor Bloomberg held fast to his position that the decision to postpone the cleaning of Zuccotti Park belonged to Brookfield Properties. Bloomberg said that the situation would be different if the protestors were trying to camp out in a city owned public park like, say, Washington Square, where overnight sleeping is not allowed.
Four takeaways worth noting in Bloomberg’s exchange with Gamlbing:
1. Bloomberg implied that Brookfield had been pressured by elected officials going to bat for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and their right to be in the park. But when Gambling tried to get specifics from the mayor about who it was applying that pressure, hinting that might be inappropriate, Bloomberg grew very vague.
2. Bloomberg said that the NYPD would be there to assist Brookfield if and when they needed their assistance to “clean” and clear the park. However, he admitted in so many words that in putting this off, Brookfield would make doing this far more difficult in the future. There will only be more protestors if and when they try to do this again.
3. Bloomberg said that the city could only clear the privately owned park of its own volition if there were a threat to public health or safety, and he admitted that the city currently has no such case nor any legal basis for doing so. His language sounded like that in the letters he got from civil rights lawyers yesterday.
4. Gambling did not address the glaringly obvious question (which Harry asked above) when he had the chance: if Brookfield did alert the city of their decision late last night, as Bloomberg said they did, why in the world was this not announced until hundreds of cops and thousands of protestors were facing off in Zuccotti Park?
Follow @harrysiegel from Occupy Wall Street right now (while the coffee still keeps him awake, anyway.)