Cash-Strapped Cities Feeling the Pinch of Protests

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


Well, like it or not, if Occupy Wall Street's protesting on your street, you will probably end up paying for it with cities deploying more officers to control the crowd, sometimes very rowdy and violent ones at that. Taxpayers are footing the overtime bills, to say the least.

My next guest warns that the longer these protests go on, the deeper the citywide cuts will be made to compensate for them.

Vincent Ignizio is the Republican New York City councilman. Councilman, good to have you.

VINCENT IGNIZIO (R), NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN: Good afternoon, Neil. How are you?


But, apparently, the costs, I guess this shouldn’t strike people as unusual, but many are surprised. They will be substantial, aren’t they?


This is a very difficult budget time for all of us, the nation, the state, and particularly the city. We face a 4.6 billion -- with a B -- dollar deficit next year and quite frankly we just cannot afford it.

The Bloomberg administration called it a dire fiscal financial situation. And now when you add a month-long protest of people camping out 24/7 with no end in sight, ultimately who will pay for it? You're going to pay for it. I'm going to pay for it. Our kids' schools will be cut back, and police overall will be cut back.

And then where's the city better off there? I really think we need to have a dialogue, no matter where you are on the Wall Street protests, on where we go from here with regards to the financial concern.

CAVUTO: I guess the concern was, last week, Councilman, that if they had gotten into Lower Manhattan and tried to clean out and clear the park where a lot of these folks were protesting, it might have incited something violent. We ended up getting some violence over the weekend when this proceeded to New York's Times Square. But having said that, do you think the authorities missed a golden opportunity then and now it's already too late to squelch this?

IGNIZIO: Neil, listen, I think we cannot have a 24/7, perpetual protest and campout in a park. Our parks close at dusk citywide.

This is a different situation because it’s a private. But, in the end of the day, there really has to be some concern for the bottom line by Wall Street protesters, city alike. Ultimately, to clean up the park and then have the false pretense of throwing people out I don’t think is the right way to go either, but we need to engage the protesters and the people who are trying to organize them to say, listen, at some point, the rubber’s got to meet the road. At what point does this protest end or take on a more manageable timeline?

CAVUTO: All right, but, obviously, it has taken on a life of its own, as you say, Councilman. A month into this and all the costs associated with just sort of trying to contain this is adding up. Now what do you think is compromised, let's say, just in your neck of the woods as a result?

IGNIZIO: Well, I mean, the police officers that are assigned here in the great borough of Staten Island are being deployed to the Wall Street protests.

And that's people, cops that we don’t have on the street here. The overtime budget -- the mayor just cut and said we had a dire situation and cut 2 percent off the overall budget. That comes right out of people’s services that they get. When you add this on top of it, Neil, I mean, it's ultimately going to cost more tax dollars and it's going to limit service for everybody else in the city.

CAVUTO: Do you worry finally, sir, that it has gotten to be a global trend, though, that if you have been to Athens or Madrid or Rome, you have these various sort of tenements or tent cities being set up, and that this is sort of like the new -- right now, and then that is the worry in Manhattan, that we're going to see something like this akin to a tent city, if not worse, in Lower Manhattan, if not elsewhere?

IGNIZIO: This cannot be the new normal. Ultimately, the city doesn’t have the funds for it.

And you just camp out on a public park in perpetuity without a recourse or without really a result. In the end of the day, my question, Neil, is, when does it end? Does winter end this? Does the spring end it? Does the hot summer months end it? At what point do we stop seeing Manhattan be utilized as a camp for these protests?

CAVUTO: Thank you, Councilman. We'll watch closely.

IGNIZIO: All right, Neil, thank you.

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