Found this in the NY Daily News under the byline of Neil Steinberg:
NO DOUBT it is a thrill to ride a chartered bus all night from Cleveland with your fellow peace activists. No doubt it feels great when you wake up after a few hours sleep to shouts that you are rolling into New York City, where the big workers’ rights protest, or anti-fur rally, or whatever, is being held.
You stand around all day, sing songs, make new friends, shout for the TV cameras, listen to Martin Sheen speak. A memory to last a lifetime.
But that is not the point. Of course activists of every stripe want to come to Central Park to protest. The point is whether the average New Yorker wants to have a pleasant, well-tended park, or one that looks like a vacant lot the hour after the circus left. Most would prefer a pleasant park.
The said, there is a certain the-whole-world-is-watching thrill to go for a walk in the park and stumble across some giant rally of 100,000 people fooling themselves they are accomplishing something. So I have an idea: Allow, if not lots of big gatherings, then more than the paltry pair of nonopera, nonsymphony gatherings that are allowed now. But charge them. If it costs $250,000 to restore the lawn after each big hoo-ha, then require that groups pony up beforehand. That seems only fair – you make a mess, you clean it up. An extra buck or two a head won’t break most organizations – well, except maybe the peaceniks. They never seem to have jobs.