On Wednesday evening, exiting the EasyPass lane and preparing to enter the Lincoln Tunnel in Hoboken, I had to brake suddenly to avoid running over a wayward traffic cone. The guy behind me in the Volvo SUV, who was tailgating and not paying attention, slammed into me, sending my right signal assembly to taillight heaven. It wouldn't have been so bad-no one was hurt and the other driver acknowledged his fault and gave me his insurance info and phone number, offering to pay for the damage-but then two cops from the Port Authority then came over and said they wanted to write up an accident report.
45 minutes later, the SUV driver and I were both still waiting for what, ultimately, was a short form with all the complexity of a parking citation.
If it took two cops this long to handle such a simple matter as an uncontested fender bender, how are New York Police going to handle the thousands of arrests that can be expected on August 29 should Mayor Michael Bloomberg persists in his Ahab-like obsession with forcing protesters to accept a rally site down near Chambers Street on the West Side Highway instead of the natural and appropriate site on the Great Lawn in Central Park.
Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who plan to march August 29 are expressing their anger at the mayor's intransigence, with many saying they plan to ignore him and make their way to the park, permit or no permit, police or no police.
To make things more interesting, New York's heroes in blue, the guys everyone loved after 9/11-along with the city's fire fighters--are taking advantage of the looming crisis to demand a big fat raise from the city, threatening a strike during the rally and the Republican convention if they don't get what they want.
Besides offering the delightful possibility that the Republican delegates from Middle America--what Jimmy Breslin calls the "low-IQ states"--might have to actually face the city alone and unguarded, the prospect of a police job action raises several other possibilities. You could have disgruntled police simply not interfering as protesters pushed through their lines and headed to the park. You could have police decide to have a slowdown, making the booking process in arrests even more slow and painful for arrestees and for the city. Or you could have a Blue Flu, with cops simply not showing up on the job on the appointed day, or during the convention, which might force Gov. George Pataki to call up the National Guard.
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