TOWN HALL DEBACLE: LOCALS LOCKED OUT OF COMMUNITY MEETING


Congressman Jerry Nadler walks through the locked-out crowd to speak at the town hall meeting.

Dozens of Upper West Siders trying to attend a meeting with city, state and national politicians at the JCC on Monday were turned away at the door because the meeting room was already too packed.

People started lining up for the 6 p.m. meeting at 5 p.m., one of Gale Brewer’s staff members told me, and the 245-capacity room filled up quickly. Many people who showed up after 6 were told they couldn’t go in. That included people like Helen Rosenthal, the former Community Board 7 chairman who is planning a run for City Council.

Various yelling matches ensued between people who wanted to get in and the security guards at the JCC, but none to rival the Occupy Wall Street clashes.

Inside, people were talking about schools, prescription drugs, housing and other issues.

But the real action was outside. People were buzzing about the problems with new development, how to save Dorothy Parker’s childhood home (slated for demolition), what Obama should do about everything, and the proliferation of food trucks in the neighborhood. Rosenthal even tried to convince the people who were locked out to hold their own town hall meeting outside. She tried to rally everyone with a “Mic Check” like at the Occupy Wall Street meetings. But it faltered after another Upper West Sider started yelling “Occupy the JCC!” (video below). Competing messages.

Everyone cheered and yelled at the elected officials as they walked in, like a kvetchy version of the Oscars. And when politicians exited, people pulled them aside to tell them their particular gripes.


City Council Speaker Christine Quinn waiting to get in.

One man stood in front of Christine Quinn after she left the building, Eventually she acknowledged him, but it was clear he had no idea who she was. When she introduced herself — “I’m the Speaker of the City Council” —  he said without a hint of irony: “If you want to be elected to the party, get Obama to talk to me.”

“I don’t know that I can do that,” she said.

“Well, it’s pretty important for him, and it could get him elected,” the man replied.

Shula Warren from Brewer’s staff said they didn’t expect so many people to show up. Two years ago, Brewer apparently held a town hall in the same spot and didn’t have any capacity issues.

Given the huge turnout, maybe they should hold another meeting, in a really big space like the auditorium at the old Brandeis High School on 84th Street. Hey, we’ve got a lot to say!

ABSURDITY, NEWS | 1 comment | permalink
    1. Joel Assouline says:

      I want to command you for covering this and it just does not make any sense that we have a Town Hall meeting where participants are excluded , what is the point ?