Greeted by 500 Amid Applause and Cat-calls
Mayor Pierce was determined to run an orderly meeting and he did Thursday night when his fellow commissioners stripped him of his duties as public safety director.
When Pierce entered the commission chambers, bulging at the seams by an overflow crowd of more than 500, he was greeted by a mixture of applause and cat-calls. When it became evident that he was faced with difficulties in maintaining order, Pierce sharply rapped the gavel and told the crowd:
“I ask you to give every commissioner the opportunity to conduct the business of this meeting. I know there are a lot of police officers here. I want them to exercise their judgment and see that this meeting is orderly.”
The crowds started gathering early for the meeting with many police officers who had been assigned to the protection of Vice President Nixon in the commission chambers. At 7.40 p. m. the chambers were half-filled as rumors spread throughout the city of an impending change in the structure of the city commission. Among the early arrivals were Thomas Watson, register of deeds, and his deputy, J. James Hainsworth. Commissioners Abbott and Shepp entered the chambers about 7:50 p. m. with Commissioners Italiano and Garrity coming in about 7:59 p. m. Pierce did not come in until 8.05 p. m. leading to conjecture in the crowd as to whether or not he was going to show up.
Each time Pierce cast a no vote on the realignment of responsibilities for the various commissioners, there was a mixture of cheers and booing. On the vote concerning the change of duties of the department of public safety Pierce inadvertently cast a ‘yes’ vote. He quickly corrected himself after briefly laughing.
“It’s easy to be preoccupied by what’s going on here tonight,” he, said.
Following the action which made him director of public affairs, Pierce again was forced to call for order. He interrupted Michael J. Piarulli, city counsel, in the midst of his speech of resignation when the crowd became too noisy. “If I have to call police officers in I’ll do so,” Pierce said.
“I’m not police commissioner now, but if anyone wants to try, me, let them do so.” Pierce asked the policemen in the audience to stand up. He asked their aid in maintaining order and asked that they put out of the meeting any noisy or disorderly person.