New York Civic: Cops Go Forward; Geese Come Back BY HENRY J. STERN

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Budget Deadlock – Day 113

Police Will Scan Data Manually to Comply with Stop and Frisk;Geese Returning to Prospect Park

NEW YORK, NY, July 22, 2010 – Our Tuesday column on stop and frisk legislation produced interesting reactions. The first emailed replies received were negative, some castigating me for going over to the dark side. The next day, Wednesday, predominantly supportive emails were received. Today (Thursday) people are no longer writing us on the subject. This shows that, although the opinion of our readers is divided, the opponents of the bill feel more intensely about it. Further comments are welcome. You may go to this link to post your thoughts.

The new law, which precludes an electronic database of those stopped by the police but not arrested, passed 85-55 in the Assembly, with 14 Democrats joining 41 Republicans in opposing it. The Democrats were Assemblymembers Marc Alessi, William Colton, Steven Englebright, Ginny Fields, Dennis Gabryszak, Sandra Galef, Aileen Gunther, Janele Hyer-Spencer, Michael Miller, Amy Paulin, Mike Spano, Robin Schimminger, Harvey Weisenberg, and Kenneth Zebrows. Three of the 14 are from New York City: Colton (Brooklyn), Miller (Queens) and Hyer-Spencer (Staten Island).

In the Senate, all 32 Democrats supported it. If any one of them had opposed it, abstained, or been absent, the bill would not have passed. All 29 Republicans opposed it.

Governor Paterson signed the bill on July 16th, ignoring appeals by Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly, the News and the Post. You can click here to read our article from Tuesday, which has many links to primary data on the subject, including the governor's written signing statement in support of the bill.

Governor Paterson's explanation, a spontaneous expansion of his signing statement, was quoted in a Daily News editorial this morning:

"'That is not a policy for a democracy. Maybe that might work in Bosnia. Maybe that might in Somalia. Maybe it would have worked in the Soviet Union or in ‘1984’. But we can't allow it to happen here.'"

The News' editorial continued with increasing vigor, denouncing Paterson's remarks as "slander". We quote:

"He also cited the Police Department's computerized files in the same breath with egregious infringements on civil rights, including the Alien and Sedition Acts [1798], and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"This is gubernatorial slander of a department that has a deserved reputation for successful crimefighting well within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution. Somalia? Bosnia? The Soviet Union? Are those the precincts into which Paterson believes Commissioner Ray Kelly has led the NYPD?"

The new law was sponsored in the Senate by Eric Adams, and co-sponsored by Pedro Espada, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker and Jose Peralta, who defeated Hiram Monserrate, his predecessor. The Assembly sponsor was Hakeem Jeffries.

The Police Department's initial response to the state restriction was reported in a story by Rocco Parascandola, chief of the Daily News police bureau. It appears across the top of p2, which is prominent placement. The article is headlined: "WRITE ON, SAY COPS: Brass Says Stop-&-Frisk Records Aren't Dead, Just Use Paper, Not Computers."

The lede: "Cops can no longer keep a giant electronic library of everyone they stop on the street – but officers can still collect names the old-fashioned way, a new NYPD memo says.

"The internal memo was sent out Friday, just after Gov. Paterson signed a law banning the NYPD from entering personal information of innocent people into a citywide database…."

We have not heard the last of this issue. Although opinion on the merits of the bill appears to be divided, as the Assembly Democrats are, the unanimity of Senate Democrats and Attorney General candidates indicates that they are marching to the tune of a different drummer.



The geese are back in Prospect Park.

According to a count this morning from two of our readers, Ed Bahlman and Anne-Katrin Titze, 28 Canada Geese have resettled at Prospect Park Lake since their feathered friends were rounded up and gassed to death on July 8th.

We have every reason to believe that our readers' count is accurate, as it was Ms. Titze who conducted the official New York State Ornithological Association and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Waterfowl Count of the area in January 2010.

Although the return of the geese is fair news for fans of the local fowl, we were hesitant to report it for fear that we would be sentencing these new settlers to the same fate as their predecessors. Upon further reflection, however, we were convinced that these geese would certainly not go unnoticed by the authorities, and so the best chance of advocating for their safety was to make public the fact of their residence.

The return of the geese deepens our suspicion that the eradication of the Prospect Park 400 was not adequately thought through. Does the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is said to have ordered the mass killing, intend to hunt down these 28 geese too, along with those yet to join them? Are they to be gassed on a rolling basis or will the executioner come once a year after mating season, while they are molting and unable to fly?

Clearly, there are problems with the government's explanation of its actions. As we pointed out in our column on June 16th, the seven-mile kill zone extending from both LaGuardia and J.F.K. designated by the Agriculture Department for geese removal, does not accurately encompass Prospect Park, which is between 9 and 10 miles away from both airports. In a follow-up piece to our article, The New York Times confirmed our measurements.

We still maintain the public deserves more information about the government's policy of geese removal. We do not dismiss the possibility that the removal of some geese may be necessary for air safety, but there are unanswered questions about the Brooklyn geese, the cruelty of their execution and the disposition of their bodies. We believe that before more geese and goslings are butchered, a clear statement of procedures and alternatives is needed. The government requires an EIS for projects with less environmental effect than this mass ansercide.

We share this planet with millions of other species. We should not exterminate animals without clear evidence that it is necessary to do so to safeguard human life.

Henry J. Stern writes as StarQuest. Direct email to him at Peruse Mr. Stern’s writing at New York Civic.  

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eHeziNew York Civic: Cops Go Forward; Geese Come Back BY HENRY J. STERN

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