The United Nations is back in town this week and New York is especially abuzz due to the high stakes battle over the potential vote on statehood for the Palestinians.
Throughout the rest of the year, the U.N. is strangely distant from the daily hum of the city. That may be due in part to its isolated East River location, far from the action in Midtown.
The diplomatic body takes center stage each September during a week that is noted for police sirens, gridlock, befuddled visitors, protests, irate cabbies, Bill Clinton, media hoards, spin, security zones, glittering receptions, tourist scams, Mahmound Ahmadinejad and diplomatic hot air. It is part of what makes New York a very special place.
Jaded New Yorkers, eyeing the ruckus, vow each year to leave the city during U.N. Week. Others revel in the opportunity to showcase the Big Apple's role as capital of the world. Though it adds a half-hour each morning to my commute from Brooklyn, count this blogger as a big fan of U.N. Week and all of its glorious bluster.
Note to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: ditch the anti-terror bikers. It’s just bad PR. While standing on the corner of Lexington Ave this afternoon, I saw two black-clad bikers from “New York Finest” counterterrorism task force waiting for the light to change. (Kelley created the nation’s first local law enforcement counterterrorism unit in 2002). How did I know they were members of the elite anti-terror unit? It was advertised on the back of their uniforms.
My fellow pedestrians were not impressed. They were confounded by the mode of transportation used by the anti-terror police, wondering if their role is limited to hunting down bad guys on two wheels. Granted, bikes make some sense with cars snarled in traffic, but where is the intimidation factor? What's next? Terror-fighters on Segways?
Here’s some free PR advice for Kelly: replace the bike corps with a mounted anti-terror squad. This blogger remembers the use of horse-riding and billy club-equipped cops during various protests during the 1970s. They were very effective in keeping things under control. Just imagine the positive PR impact derived from horses galloping down Park Ave in hot pursuit of bad guys. It would be an only in New York scenario.
If NYPD brass stubbornly insists on keeping its terror squad on bikes (the Bloomberg administration is dead set on turning NYC into a bicycle paradise) it should at least make sure the riders are fit to peddle. The guys on Lex today didn’t appear to be in tip-top condition.
Happy U.N. Week to all. Enjoy the chaos.