Council Members Propose Terror Trial Resolution

Members of the City Council are taking no chances when it comes to the 9/11 terror trial.  There have been strong indications – but no official word- that the Obama Administration intends to move the trial from Lower Manhattan. So tomorrow, Councilmember Margaret Chin, along with colleagues Vincent Gentile, Michael Nelson and Peter Vallone will propose holding the trial outside of New York City. “In the alternative,” the resolution states, the federal government should “fully fund the security costs New York will incur in properly and effectively safeguarding the city during the federal terrorism trials.” You can see the full text of the resolution after the jump.

There will also be a hearing of the Council’s Public Safety Committee on February 10th (a week from tomorrow), “exploring the ramifications and alternatives” of holding the trial in New York. The hearing takes place at 1pm in Council Chambers.

Resolution calling upon the U.S. Department of Justice to hold the trials of the September 11th terrorists outside of New York City, or, in the alternative, calling upon President Obama and the 111th Congress to fully fund the security costs New York will incur in properly and effectively safeguarding the city during the federal terrorism trials.

Whereas, In November of 2009, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. announced that the U.S. Department of Justice plans to prosecute five suspects accused of the September 11 terrorist attacks, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York, which is located in downtown Manhattan; and

Whereas, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg echoed publically the thoughts of many New Yorkers when he stated that the trials would disrupt the daily activities in Manhattan and impose an enormous financial and logistical burden on the city, its businesses, and its citizens; and

Whereas, The Department of Justice should reevaluate its decision and consider holding the trials in another location due to the fact that New York City is the financial capital of the nation and a highly visible terrorist target; and

Whereas, There has been a loud and persistent outcry from local residents and businesses in Chinatown and across lower Manhattan, especially in the communities of Chatham Towers and Chatham Square who will be negatively affected by the holding of these trials in lower Manhattan; and

Whereas, The concerns of the residents of lower Manhattan, about safety, mobility, and daily life have affected the opinions of many of these elected officials on these trials, and

Whereas, Mayor Bloomberg, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are all open to exploring alternative sites, as is Senator Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee who stated, in opposing New York City as the site of the trials, “from an intelligence perspective, the situation has changed with the Christmas attack … and the administration should take note of that and make a change as well;” and

Whereas, According to a Resolution passed by Lower Manhattan’s Community Board 1, other sites – such as West Point and the federal court in White Plains, among others –  would be more logistically feasible and less expensive; and

Whereas, If the federal government determines that the trials must be held in New York City, the federal government must finance the security costs that will be incurred in ensuring that the trials run safely and smoothly since New York State and New York City are both facing serious financial constraints; and

Whereas, In his Executive Budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Governor Paterson announced that the state faces a budget deficit of $7.4 billion, which consists of $500 million which was carried over from last year (2009-2010); the state also expects to face budget deficits in the future of $14.3 billion in 2011-2012, $18.3 billion in 2012-2013, and $20.7 billion in 2013-14; and

Whereas, New York City is also facing similar budget issues: a deficit of $3.16 billion in Fiscal 2012 and $3.67 billion in Fiscal 2013; and

Whereas, New York City taxpayers should not bear the burden of financing the entire trial; and

Whereas, In addition to financial concerns, New York City must worry about its limited police resources as holding the trial in New York may impede the NYPD as it seeks to fulfill its other responsibilities; and

Whereas, If the trial takes place in the federal courthouse on Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, the Department of Homeland Security will only be responsible for securing the perimeter of the building and the NYPD will be responsible for the burden of securing the outer perimeter, which will stretch from Bowery to Broadway, and from Franklin Street to Canal Street; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon the U.S. Department of Justice to hold the trials of the September 11th terrorists outside of New York City, or, in the alternative, calling upon President Obama and the 111th Congress to fully fund the security costs New York will incur in properly and effectively safeguarding the city during the federal terrorism trials.