NEW YORK, N.Y. - Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that the Occupy Wall Street protests have no place in his bedroom.
The mayor was asked Monday whether he had discussed the dilemma faced by the lower Manhattan protest site's owner, Brookfield Office Properties, with his live-in girlfriend, Diana Taylor, who's on the company's board of directors.
"I can tell you that pillow talk in our house is not about Occupy Wall Street or Brookfield Properties," the mayor answered.
Brookfield, which holds 6.2 million square feet of property in midtown Manhattan and 12.8 million square feet in lower Manhattan, most of it in the World Financial Center, has been struggling with how to handle the protesters who've descended on Zuccotti Park, pitching tents, tarps, sleeping bags and other essentials for their encampment.
Bloomberg, a billionaire who founded the financial information company Bloomberg LP, said last week that police would help Brookfield enforce rules preventing encampments at the half-acre park, then announced the company had changed its mind. He said he hasn't had any direct communication with Taylor about the situation.
"They (Brookfield) had said to me then that they wanted to have a few days to negotiate," said Bloomberg, who added that "unless they were to file a complaint saying somebody's trespassing we don't have any ways or reason to go in and remove people."
Brookfield, which recently bought a majority stake in 450 W. 33rd St., where The Associated Press headquarters is located, said last week in a statement that it had decided to delay cleaning the park "for a short period of time" at the request of "a number of local political leaders." It said Monday that it "recognizes people's right to peaceful protest."
"However," it said in a statement, "we also have an obligation to ensure that the park remains safe, clean, and accessible to everyone."
Although Zuccotti Park is privately owned, it is required to be open to the public 24 hours a day.
The protesters say the only way they will leave is by force. Their demands are amorphous, but they are united in blaming Wall Street and corporate interests for the economic pain they say all but the wealthiest Americans have endured since the financial meltdown.
The cost of policing the protests has ballooned to $3.5 million, the mayor said.
"The police department is going to the keep the city safe," he said, "and then we'll figure out how to pay for it."