Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Politics, Pizza & Protestors

State lawmakers planned to work into the evening in an attempt to finish up the NY state budget one day before the deadline. They had company: protestors who vowed to camp out at the Capitol to demonstrate how they felt about the budget as it is written...

This afternoon I walked downtown to check out the protest at the State Capitol. Even though I was very early, it took quite some time to get through security (the line at the door trailed out onto Washington Avenue).

There were busloads of demonstrators from all over the state!

Another fun luvvin' UAlbany student?

By the time I got up to the 4th floor where the action was, I (and a few other reporters) were unable to get close enough to catch those individuals speaking. NPR's Karen DeWitt must have arrived much earlier, as she had a great spot (for microphone purposes).

The event was a mishmashed hodge-podge of sights and sounds! People were everywhere, and I used the event as an opportunity to introduce myself to several individuals I have seen around but until now hadn't been able to talk to!

Although the protestors may not change much right now, their presence sends a message that they ARE concerned about the government and the actions the State of New York is taking in the matter of Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget.

One of the "highlights" of the event sent out to the media was "the largest single delivery of pizzas in the area" - 70 of them - to feed the hungry demonstrators! I'm not sure if that's true... any documentation for that?

According to Karen, the crowd of demonstrators at the State Capitol shouted "no pizza, no peace" when the big pie delivery was blocked around 5:50pm... they also chanted "Cuomo,Cuomo shut us out, now he's keeping our pizzas out" - not a very nice thing for an Italiano to do!
From the Times Union: "...Sen. Bill Perkins, D-Manhattan, arrived to help haul the pizza upstairs to where the bulk of the demonstrators are. Perkins, as some readers know, is a darling of teachers unions and school funding advocates who were especially pleased with his criticism last year of charter schools.

But Perkins was initially told the pizza’s weren’t being allowed in the building, at which point some of the demonstrators started yelling and chanting. Fearing a potential food fight, Alliance for Quality Education’s Billy Easton, one of the event’s main organizers, tried to pipe the crowd down, assuring them that “Sen. Perkins is working on it. Just hang in there. We have a right to eat.”

With a little last-minute diplomacy from Perkins and renowned diplomat Sen. Kevin Parker, a squad of young people finally carried the pizzas through the freight entrance and whisked them in the direction of the Western Staircase.

Paul Rivera, a top Senate Democratic staffer, was there, looking mildly irritated and I told him this whole thing seemed a bit absurd — we reporters and photographers were chasing a bunch of cheese and pepperoni pizzas while the state is trying to pass its budget. He agreed, quipping that since there’s not much else to do, as there are at this point no bills to vote on..."
Lord Allah from the lower east side

This gentleman was worried about cuts to education (he had his young son with him) and he was quite concerned about stabilization of rent control in the City.

So, how is it looking for the so-called "Albany Sleepover"?

During the 6pm newshour, local tv stations were reporting that it is "unlikely" protestors will be allowed to stay overnight at the Capitol.

WBEN Newsradio out of Buffalo reports as of 8:19pm "They expect chanting, folk songs and marshmallows, in what fliers refer to a massive "Capitol Camp In" overnight. " Groups plan to hold speak-outs, teach-ins, and even a dance party throughout the night to keep their spirits up," according to a statement from the Alliance for Quality Education.

I'll check out the news at 10 or 11 and see what developed...

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