Girl Scouts and Wiffle Ball players may be happy about the Transportation Security Administration's big announcement this week that, starting in late April, passengers will be allowed to carry small pocket knives and certain sports equipment on to planes, after those objects were banned in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But flight attendants are decidedly unhappy about the announcement.
“It’s a bad idea,” says Veda Shook, President of the Association of Flight Attendants. She says under the new rules, which would allow knives less than 2.36 inches long and a half inch wide, a passenger could still “do some serious damage.” Shook, who is a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines, also questions the need for the rule change. “It's not like there's this outcry to bring knives on board,” she says.
The TSA declined an interview, but issued a statement saying the new rules will allow them to "better focus their efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives."
That logic makes sense to Doug Laird, an airport security consultant and former director of security for Northwest Airlines.
“You can’t protect against everything,” Laird says. “I would much rather see the TSA trying to find the components of IED's than worrying about looking for a Swiss Army Knife.”
Still, flight attendants are taking their case to Capitol Hill, and have the support of federal air marshal and law enforcement groups.
As for the Wiffle Ball bats, Flight Attendant Association president Shook says she isn’t concerned with bringing them back in to the plane cabin -- unless, she jokes, she had to “actually hit a Wiffle Ball with one.” But Shook objects to lumping a lightweight plastic bat into the same category as something she worries could be used as a weapon against flight attendants and passengers.
“It’s a distraction,” Shook says, “intended to take our eye off the blades that are coming back on board.”
See the TSA's new guidelines in the slides below (via TSA):
On a recent chilly afternoon in New York, a healthy crowd is strolling along The High Line in Chelsea, a park built on an old elevated rail line.
“It’s just such a nice walk,” says tourist Helen Crestwell. “I love all the artwork, what they’ve done with the gardens.”
The High Line is dotted with sculptures and murals, which echo Chelsea’s vibrant art gallery scene at street level. Those galleries helped transform Chelsea, on Manhattan’s west side, into a desirable neighborhood.
“In the mid 90s, the galleries started to flee Soho as rents approached $50 a square foot, says Stuart Siegel of commercial real estate firm CBRE. “Chelsea was basically a seedy warehouse area.”
Seedy but affordable. Since then though, Siegel says rents have gone up 10-fold and many galleries are now being pushed out. Galleries like Schroeder Romero, which just closed its doors. Owner Sara Jo Romero remembers the feeling of unity among gallery owners when she opened the gallery with Lisa Schroeder in 2006.
“We all thought it would be wonderful to all kind of band together and be on one block together,” Romero says.
It was wonderful. And when the High Line opened in 2009, the galleries thought it would be a boon, says Lisa Schroeder.
“We were really excited. The whole neighborhood started to change because of The High Line, and we thought we were going to be part of that revitalization,” she recalls. “It turned out that didn’t happen for a lot of us middle-tier galleries. We just became priced out."
Their rent doubled, and it didn’t help that galleries found themselves competing for space with New York’s booming tech scene. Stuart Seigel says that really took off after Google bought a building in Chelsea two years ago.
“The Google effect has had an enormous impact on the market in Chelsea. There are thousands of companies that want to be near Google,” he says.
As for the art scene, some galleries are migrating again -- this time to Manhattan’s Lower East Side.