New York City's community boards are known for being thorns in the side of city government, lobbying, often effectively, to influence the policy of councilmembers and city agencies. But it's rare to see a community board — by design the lowest wrung of municipal government — challenge the President of the United States. And it's even rarer to see them making headway.
That's the case in Lower Manhattan, where a Community Board 1 committee has taken a strong stance against President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder's plans to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other suspected 9/11 plotters in a Downtown federal courthouse. According to Fox, the group voted unanimously to request the Justice Department relocate the terror trial to Governor's Island over concerns that hosting it in Manhattan would be too dangerous, too costly, too much of a risk for local business owners, and too much of a political liability. And Police Commissioner Ray Kelly seems supportive of the idea, telling NY1: "We certainly are open to that suggestion."
Though Kelly noted that the city was "not part of the decision-making process" and that his agency is "going on with our planning as if the trial will take place in the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse," it's certainly a victory for the board. In an interview with Gothamist, CB1 chair Julie Menin — who has started the website trialongovernorsisland.org — said it makes more sense to deputize a Governor's Island building than it does to try the case in Manhattan. "The new cost estimates by the NYPD for security of over $200 million a year suggest the Lower Manhattan courthouse is inherently not safe. In this economic recession, to spend close to $1 billion on security for a multi-year trial makes no sense," she said. "Governors Island offers a political compromise between those Republicans who want a less public setting, and those Democrats who favor a federal courthouse setting."
The full board is expected to vote on the resolution — which is merely advisory — next week.