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Chin: The President Must “Listen to the People”

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This morning, standing across the street from the Moynihan Federal Courthouse on Worth Street, Councilmember Margaret Chin and two colleagues spoke out forcefully against holding the 9/11 terror trials in New York City. Chin, Peter Vallone and Vincent Gentile previewed a public hearing that will be held Wednesday on the subject and talked about a Council resolution they are co-sponsoring.

Vallone said, “this hearing will finally be a chance for the people of New York City to have some input and to be heard.”  Chin told reporters at the news conference she was disappointed after hearing President Obama on the news this morning saying the NYC terror trials were not “off the table.” She asserted, “the president has to listen to the people.”

The resolution was authored by Councilmember Gentile. It calls for the trials to be moved from New York, and in the alternative, it states that the federal government should pay for all of the security costs. The hearing will be co-chaired by Vallone, head of the Public Safety Committee, and Chin, head of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee.  Council Speaker Christine Quinn was not present at the news conference. When asked about her whereabouts, Vallone said he believed she had a “scheduling conflict.” Vallone said there would be no vote Wednesday. He added, “I would hope to have a vote on the Councilmember’s resolution in the future.” Pressed about when a vote might be heard by the full Council, Vallone said, “that’s up to the Speaker.”  Here’s more of what Vallone and Chin had to say this morning:

Vallone made it clear he’s not opposed to holding the trials in New York City solely because they would disrupt daily life in Lower Manhattan and pose a security threat. He believes the terror suspects should be tried at Guantanamo Bay, on ideological grounds. Chin, however, disagrees. A reporter asked her whether she concurred with Vallone that civil trials for the 9/11 suspects would be inappropriate:

Some Lower Manhattan activists have complained that the impact of the resolution is diluted by the inclusion of the language about paying for the trials, in the event that the Justice Department declines to move them. Gentile explained the thinking behind the resolution language:

The Council’s news advisory announcing the press conference stated,

New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, together with Public Safety Committee Chair Peter F. Vallone and Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Chair Margaret Chin, announced today that the Council will hold a joint committee hearing on locating the 9/11 terror trials in New York City… “Leaders across the City have cited major fiscal and quality of life impacts the 9/11 trials will have on our communities if held in the five boroughs,” said Speaker Quinn. “This oversight hearing will be an opportunity to comprehend the far-reaching ramifications that this trial will have on our communities, our police force, and our everyday life in New York City. It will also be an opportunity to hear suggestions for alternative sites to hold the trials. I look forward to discussing these issues further at Wednesday’s hearing.”

The hearing takes place at 1pm in City Council Chambers. If you would like to read the full text on the resolution, see our previous story here.

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  1. Please note that the Council Hearing was postponed and is rescheduled for:

    FRIDAY, February 12, 2010
    City Council Chambers @ City Hall
    1:00 PM
    Public Safety Committee, Peter Vallone, Jr., Chairperson

    I agree with moving the trials out of New York City, but I cannot understand why the Council would have an alternative – asking for money if the trials WERE to be held here. Gentile has offered no real explanation at all as to why there is a funding option. There is too much at risk to the local community if the trials were to take place here and, plain and simple, the sole objective of the Council should be to take NYC off the table for the terror trials and not leave ANY option.

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