NEW YORK — The folks at UNITE HERE appear not to have taken to heart former Mayor Edward I. Koch’s call for New Yorkers to “make nice” with the 4,853 delegates expected to hit town this month for the Republican National...
NEW YORK — The folks at UNITE HERE appear not to have taken to heart former Mayor Edward I. Koch’s call for New Yorkers to “make nice” with the 4,853 delegates expected to hit town this month for the Republican National Convention.
With less than two weeks to go before the event is held at Madison Square Garden, the union hung a banner Tuesday from its headquarters building at 275 Seventh Avenue with the message: “Save America. Defeat Bush.”
A spokeswoman for the union said the 25-foot-high, 75-foot-long missive at the corner of West 26th Street was intended as “a little welcome, if you will,” for the expected visitors. The convention is to run Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at the Garden, five blocks north of the sign. The union owns the building at 275 Seventh Avenue.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” said a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “It’s really too bad that the special interests don’t see what real Americans see, that this president is putting more people to work and keeping more people safe.”
A spokesman for the NYC Host Committee 2004, which is helping to organize the event, said dissent is something to be expected in New York.
“If you get two New Yorkers in a room, you’ll get five different opinions,” he said.
Further north along Seventh Avenue, several hotels Tuesday were hanging red, white and blue bunting, which appeared to be more in line with the former mayor’s suggestion.
The Host Committee, which is helping to organize the event, has estimated that the expected 47,000 visitors attending the event — including press and politicians, in addition to the official delegates — will bring a $265 million economic boost to the city. The administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied aggressively for the conclave to be held in New York because of the potential economic benefits.
Last month, the Democratic Party held its nominating event in Boston. That city had anticipated a $154 million economic boost from the convention. The Beacon Hill Institute, a think tank located at Suffolk University in Boston, last week released a report that found the $156.7 million in convention-related spending was offset by $141.9 million in lost business for the week, meaning that Boston’s net gain was $14.8 million.However, that event largely brought Boston to a standstill, with many city residents and tourists avoiding the area of the convention. By contrast, the Bloomberg administration has been adamant in insisting the convention should not interfere with the daily routine of most area businesses and residents.
In recent weeks, New York has revealed that several streets around the Garden at the James Farley Post Office, which is to serve as a media center during the convention, will be closed during the event. By Tuesday, office trailers set up by organizers and media groups had already occupied two of the five traffic lanes on Eighth Avenue between West 31st and 33rd Streets, as well as more space along West 33rd between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
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