That’s likely to become the major point of contention in negotiations between Occupy Nashville and the state’s attorneys.
Haslam joked about the Chattanooga Times Free Press’ scathing editorial that likened the governor's actions to those of a petty Balkan dictator.
“I don’t think I’m so petty,” he said, adding that "a lot of other people" have cheered him on. " 'Hey, way to go!' " Haslam said he's heard.
Here are excerpts from the Q&A:
Q: Governor, Occupy Nashville wants to occupy the Plaza, spend the night there. As far as you're concerned, is that possible or out of the question?
Haslam: I thought they already were spending the night there.
Q: Well, that’s for three weeks [under federal Judge Aleta Trauger’s order.] Now, you have to negotiate that point.
Haslam: Oh, for now they’re staying there. We have a temporary restraining order that we’ve agreed to. I actually corresponded with them by letter today. We said we appreciate the attention and care you’re giving to things there. As to what happens after, I don’t … I mean, there’s a lawsuit going on so I have to be restricted in what I say. But what we said initially is that we thought having a curfew made sense for a lot of reasons, and we have curfews other places. Bicentennial Mall behind us. Metro has curfews on their parks. We think that’s logical. The judge basically said, her opinion at the time was we don’t think you can change the rules in the middle of things. And so we’re looking at that and doing our research and trying to decide what we’ll do.
Q: Did you all run this by the attorney general before you moved?
Haslam: We had conversations last week that involved General Services, Safety and the attorney general’s office was part of the conversations.
Q: Did the AG’s office say you were on sound ground to do this?
Haslam: All those folks were part of the conversations.
Q: The Chattanooga newspaper this week said you were acting like a petty Balkan dictator. What do you say about that?
Haslam: Obviously, I disagree.
Q: You disagree? [Laughter]
Haslam: I don’t think I’m so petty [laughing]. Again, we had responsibilities. And that’s one side of the Chattanooga newspaper. The other side would probably say something different. But we have responsibilities to provide a safe environment. We had real concerns about what was happening there. I don’t know how to say it any different. We have curfews other places. We felt like that was a reasonable thing to ask for.
Q: There’s a Porta-Potty there now, two in fact. Is everything cool there now?
Haslam: You know, that’s part of what we’ll have to take into account. You were asking what we’re going to do when the restraining order is over. I just don’t have an answer for that today. We’re happy to see that I think conditions down there in the last couple of days have been better.
Q: Have you been surprised by the criticism? There’s been quite a bit of it.
Haslam: No, you hear a lot of things. I’ve had a lot of other people go, hey way to go. I think in the end in the job I have, you can do things, hear criticism, hear compliments and you’ve just got to figure out what’s the right thing to do. If we had done nothing, we would have heard a lot of criticism.
Q: What do you think you accomplished? You arrested 55 people and they’re still there.
Haslam: We responded because we were concerned. I don’t know how to say it any differently. We were concerned about the safety conditions, and it wasn’t just us. We had a lot of people saying this is not a safe environment, and so we did what we thought was best.