Published December 31, 2003
HARTFORD, Conn. – Concerned about terrorism, Rep. Christopher Shays (search) suggested that revelers not attend New Year's Eve celebrations like the one at Times Square this year. New York's mayor countered Wednesday that Shays could use an infusion of courage.
A member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security (search) and chairman of a terrorism subcommittee, the Connecticut Republican told WVIT-TV on Tuesday that he wouldn't go to Times Square "for anything."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (search) said nobody should stay home because of the nation's heightened terror alert, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the nation's security was unprecedented.
But Shays said it is irresponsible for officials to make people think they don't need to take precautions, like avoiding packed crowds in New York City.
"Secretary Ridge says just do what you normally do," Shays said. "I would say, what do you normally do? If normally you go to Times Square, I wouldn't do what you normally do."
Shays added, "I wouldn't go into places when you're packed and where if there was panic, a lot of injuries would take place."
The mayor's office said Shays also should show more confidence in the "world's greatest police department."
Some Connecticut communities were hoping Shay's comments would be a boon to their own festivities. Danbury organizers were selling buttons to their First Night celebration, a myriad of family activities, nightlife like karaoke and dance parties, and a countdown.
"If there are security concerns, people stay home and come here," said Betsy McIlvaine, a First Night Danbury board member. "He should have said, 'Come to Danbury."'