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Our honorable Mayor by evil robot 6, from our Flickr pool

Our honorable Mayor by evil robot 6, from our Flickr pool

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels most definitely did not cross a picket line in Providence RI yesterday. No sirree Bob.

Local 799 of the Providence International Association of Firefighters picketed the US Conference of Mayors meeting in Providence, this past weekend, to publicize their grievance with Providence’s Mayor David Cicilline. The firefighters have been working without a contract for four years; Cicilline has publicly referred to the protest as “political extortion,” as opposed to the exercise of the firefighters’ First Amendment rights.

VP Joe Biden, former King County Executive Ron Sims, former Governor Locke, and former Police Chief Gil Kerlikowski (and wow, that list certainly points up how many of our local politicos the Obama administration has taken on-board. I think it’s that “no state income tax” thing) all cancelled their appearances. Nickels, who was sworn in as the 67th president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Monday, ducked the issue by not going outside.

According to Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis and Nickels spokesman Alex Fryer, Nickels’ hotel was connected to the Rhode Island Convention Center. Since the demonstration primarily took place across the street, Nickels could give his cap-and-trade speech and be dubbed Conference President without having to see or confront the firefighters. Fryer said in an email that “we are respectful” of the “labor protest across the street from the convention center.” Local 799 president Paul Doughty would probably call that honoring the letter, but not the spirit, of the protest. On Monday, the protesters moved out of the city-designated areas.

The firefighters were not the only people protesting Cicilline’s policies, labor and otherwise. ‘Right to the City’ (a group protesting stimulus spending), the union of local Head Start employees, representatives of the Providence policeman’s union, and a group that were protesting the way the city handles protesters, all made an appearance at one time or another.

This is the first time that Providence has hosted the Conference in 77 years.


[NOTE: Edited to fix cliche’.]

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