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Woodstock’s Fiery End Burns Rome Mayor

Woodstock’s Fiery End Burns Rome Mayor

As Woodstock ’99’s organizers continue to assess the monetary
damage done during the festival’s riotous closing night, city
officials in the small New York town that played host to the
three-day event are attempting to assess less tangible damage, such
as the impact on the city’s morale and reputation.| This morning,
Rome mayor Joe Griffo, who had been one of the primary advocates
for bringing Woodstock to his city, expressed his doubts about
Rome’s willingness to host another large rock festival, let alone
another Woodstock.

“I don’t want the community to bury its head in the sand and not be
willing to put on big events in the future,” Griffo said. “But if
this is what’s becoming of Woodstock as we approach the new
millenium, then obviously I don’t think a lot of communities are
going to be opening their arms to host an event such as this or any
type of concert that does this.

“It’s kind of like being in a heavyweight prize fight,” he said.
“You go the twelve rounds and it’s hard to say whether or not you
want a rematch, if you’re still standing at the end.”

But the city of Rome has more immediate concerns than the next
Woodstock festival. On Monday, the seven people who were accused of
criminal activity in connection with Sunday’s melee were arraigned
on charges including criminal mischief, riot, petit larceny and
disorderly conduct. According to Eleanor T. Coniglio, chief clerk
for the Rome City Court, two of the accused pled guilty to
disorderly conduct, and each was sentenced to five days in Oneida
County jail and required to pay a $45 fine. The remaining five have
not yet entered their pleas and are set to return to court over
dates spanning from tomorrow morning until October 8.

“I think they’re thugs,” Griffo said of the seven accused. “And I
hope they get punished appropriately because those people are the
ones that wrecked it for almost a quarter of a million people. And
I wish I had an opportunity to see these young people eye-to-eye.
If I would have known they were [in the court], I would have made
my way down just to eyeball these kids and to ask what went through
their heads to be so violent in the end.”

Griffo was careful to point out that those involved with
orchestrating Woodstock ’99 aren’t pointing fingers at each other,
but he did cast blame toward one of the musical acts. He said: “I
thought the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers acted somewhat irresponsibly at
the end of their set on that night. They could have done
[something] to quell [the situation] and Anthony [Kiedis] went out
and just kind of said, ‘Hey, it looks like Apocalypse Now
out there.’ And that was so unnecessary and really endangering in
my opinion and shows a total disregard for their fans.”

While he deferred to Woodstock co-promoters Michael Lang and John
Scher on the issue of actual monetary losses, Griffo did say that
“the state police put an estimate of about a million dollars as to
the total damages.” And, echoing Scher’s statement earlier this
morning, he explained that there had been no damages to any
“permanent structures.”

“I think right now the effort needs to be made for people to work
together to bring this whole thing to closure.”

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