GOP elephant

- The Post reports that security for the Republican Natinal Convention will cost $29 million more - for a total of $76 million - than the Bloomberg administration thought. Gothamist wants to know why it's so surprising that it would be that expensive, considering that thousands of Republicans AND the President will be coming to New York for a couple days. That says "Security up the wazoo," not to mention "gridlock," to us. Anyway, Police Comissioner Raymond Kelly told the City Council yesterday that $59 million is for overtime, and then the federal government will be kicking in just under $25 million and the city ihas put aside $25.9 million for overtime; Kelly is holding out his hat to different branches of the federal government to see what money can be thrown our way. Apparently additional funds are needed because of the other big events happening during the convention, like the U.S. Open, which will require members of the NYPD to work overtime.

- Commissioner Kelly also mentioned that the NYPD will be undergoing protest training, to make sure "officers will be trained in legal issues, first Amendment issues and the rights of demonstrators." Crowd control, counter-terrorism, and assembly issues are on the agenda of "Operation: When Protestors Attack" (okay, that's not the NYPD code name, which is something like "RNC training course" but that's boring). Civil rights and protest groups find this fairly amusing, with the United for Peace and Justice (the group whose permit to protest in Central Park was turned down) spokesman saying, "The rhetoric coming from the police commissioner is at odds with the way he and the department has acted." However, Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) says, "I think there's always going to be a problem when it relates to large-scale protests. Kelly's first concern is the safety of the public, and that often conflicts with the rights of a large crowd to protest. I feel the rights of the public to be safe has to prevail."

- But the fact that there is no place for protestors to, er, protest, is a huge sticking point for everyone. The New York Times has an editorial criticizing the mayor for rejecting a protest on the Great Lawn:

... if the mayor wants to protect the greenery, he is obligated to find an equally good place for the demonstrations. In this era of highly scripted conventions, the protests outside the convention hall may offer the most authentic political discourse of the week. When the nation watches what happens in New York during the convention, we want everyone to fully appreciate the glories of the city, and the way it has come back from the disaster of 9/11. But viewers also need to see a New York that is and always has been a place in which political expression is valued and protected.

Gotham Gazette has a good look at the issues surrounding the Republican National Convention in NYC. And USA Today has an article about the NYC getting the convention that seems straight from Ed Skyler. And last week's notes.