2011 Bulletins | January through June
6/23/11 — “Basta…!” There have been a number of stories in the news recently that deserve their own bulletins, but will be rolled into this mega-bulletin instead. We are in overdrive getting “The Swindle At Ground Zero” ready to send to the Governors and this will probably be the last bulletin posted until it has been delivered to them. That also means that we can’t respond to supporters’ emails, as much as we would like to. We welcome comments, but ask that you hold off on sending in questions for the next month.
The writing is on the wall in a big way, beginning last week with the column by New York Post jack-of-all-trades Steve “Sis Boom Bah” Cuozzo, who was distraught over the rumor that Governor Cuomo has decided to replace PA Executive Director Chris Ward. Then the Post reported in “Clash of the Titans” that there is bad blood between the Governor and the Mayor and that the aides to Mayor Michael Bloomberg are trying to cut the Governor’s staff out of the 10th Anniversary planning…
“One of the key reasons for the governor’s decision to remove Christopher Ward as executive director of the Port Authority — which is rebuilding the World Trade Center — is that he’s viewed as ‘a Bloomberg guy’ [emphasis added] Cuomo confidants said.” That’s the first time we have seen in print what we have assumed since 10/2/2008, when Ward released his plan for the Trade Center just weeks after telling us in his office that he was going to look into the feasibility of the “Twin Towers II” plan. As we have said many times before, he pumped the current lame project full of steroids instead, with the public’s money as his drug of choice.
A Daily News op-ed by Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who had first-hand experience with Christopher Ward’s methods, warned the public in May, 2008, that “Giving Christopher Ward Port Authority job like fox guarding henhouse.” But he landed the job he told “60 Minutes” in 2010 he had always wanted, and picked up where he left off as head of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection — lying to the public to get his way. In a Q & A on the the Port Authority’s website in November, 2008, Ward said:
But if that were true, why didn’t he say so when he met with us, instead of saying he would get back to us soon? Probably because he knew Ken Gardner would have shot his lame excuses full of holes on the spot and then he couldn’t have pretended to believe that pile of steaming [poo]. Once Ward was told on September 18, 2008, that the transition to “Twin Towers II” would save billions of dollars and years of time he owed it to the public to do the due diligence that would prove it or disprove it — before spending another dime.
Until he did that, disclaiming that new Twin Towers would involve “starting from scratch” wasn’t an exaggeration — it was a lie. He knew that much of the ground work had to be done for either project — and that the construction contracts could be converted. After all, the unions were originally some of the biggest supporters of rebuilding the Towers — and the “Twin Towers II” full-bore project would employ far more construction workers than the current phased-in project.
The only course a public official spending massive amounts of public funds could have responsibly taken was to look into the claims, even if the aim was to discredit them. But that would have required inquiring into Ken Gardner’s basis for his projections, which never happened, so there is no way to claim a real analysis was ever done before expending the billions of dollars entrusted to him.
Ward couldn’t risk confirming that “Twin Towers II” was more feasible than the current project, because he was not charged with rebuilding the World Trade Center – he was obviously charged with building the Bloomberg version of the World Trade Center — the bastardization of a bastardization that resulted from the 2006 Master Development Agreement that the Mayor had engineered.
Ward did not have the authority to commit the public to spending billions more on a project that was not what the public wanted, once he was told there was actually a fast-track to what the public clearly did want. In fact, no one ever had that authority. A few of the questions that now need answering are: Did Ward bring the Gardner claims to the attention of the PA Board of Commissioners? If he didn’t, why not? If he did, which of the Commissioners agreed to bury the information?
Was that information brought to the attention of Governors David Paterson and Jon Corzine? What did they say? Was the Mayor’s Office consulted, and if so, why? Ward works for the Governors. He does not work for the Mayor. And they all work for the people.
One peculiar twist of fate is that the Port Authority headquarters are just a few blocks from Tammany Hall, where the infamous Boss Tweed robbed the public — before ending his days in prison. Of course we can’t say whether Chris Ward’s behavior crossed the line, but no one can say that it didn’t without an inquiry. It looks suspicious. The public has a right to know.
There is certainly the appearance of gross impropriety at the two largest construction projects in the state — the World Trade Center and the Croton Water Filtration Plant — while Ward was in control of both. We don’t think he pocketed money like Boss Tweed, but if his abuse of power resulted in diverting billions of dollars that wouldn’t have been spent as they were if he had impartially evaluated the options presented to him, what’s the difference? That certainly should be investigated before he collects a public pension.
If there was collusion in the way billions of public dollars were spent, then it is likely that Governors Cuomo and Christie will want to get to the bottom of it. Someone wrote to ask us why we think the two Governors will respond now: Because both of them are not only real leaders, but also former prosecutors — and cheating the public is no foundation for the World Trade Center.
Neither is treating the public like children who should be seen and not heard — but that is The Bloomberg “Because I Said So” Way. The objections of some 9/11 Families ( and no doubt most citizens) to the way the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is going to be funded hit the fan especially hard yesterday and there is no better example of how wrongheaded every aspect of the current plan is. That comes on top of the offensive way 9/11 victims’ remains have been commandeered and how that “debate” has been handled.
There never is room for debate when Bloomberg is involved. His arrogance is only exceeded by his stubborness. As one firefighter, whose firefighter son died on 9/11 said, he should not have to walk past a gift shop to get to his son. This is classic Bloomberg, who fights the people and plays semantics at every turn. But refusing to give the family members’ contacts to a retired judge or other trustworthy individual, so that they can all be polled as to their wishes, will prove to be a very bad mistake.
The very idea that respectfully polling every 9/11 family wasn’t the very first course of action before developing their plan for the remains — instead of presuming to let a few speak for the others — is disgraceful. But the worst offense comes from the defeatists in the media who have been insisting for years that it’s always too late to do the right thing. No matter what is wrong with the wretched “plan” — and that means everything — it is always protected by some vague statute of limitations against making things bettter.
It wasn’t too late in the past and it’s not too late now — unless our country is out of gas. And the only people who can decide that are the ones who are picking up the tab. The passive-aggressive editors at the New York Post recently railed against charging a whopping admission fee to visit the 9/11 Museum and then meekly ended by saying:
Who needs that lemming mentality? The folly of a memorial that somehow manages to be generic and extravagant at the same time has been apparent all along. It is never too late to say we won’t pay for “waterfalls” that use as many kilowatts of electricity in an hour as it costs to light 800 homes! We aren’t stuck unless we want to be…
Instead of big drains that convey how helpless we are, why not “can” the falls and install wonderful fountains in the center of each footprint instead? The upward spray of water would be uplifting instead of depressing — as it is in memorials around the world. And we could line the walls with the glass that was developed for the base of the Freedom Tower — which would catch and reflect the mist.
The fountains could be circled with the flags of the nations that lost citizens, as Ken Gardner had planned for his memorial. And the sound of soothing music could replace the “white noise” of the falls. The message would be life-overcoming-death, instead of death-overcoming-life — up instead of down – while saving at least ten million dollars a year.
Designer Michael Arad would probably object to having his grand vision subjected to an an overdue reality check, but maybe he can convince Larry Silverstein to make a perpetual bequest to fund it, considering how much Larry has saved over the years by getting the public to pay for everything. He is so savvy he even used the public’s own money to pay for the lawyers to sue the public — and walked away with a free year of rent for his trouble.
Mr. Silverstein recently repeated his favorite boast that the WTC will be the Rockefeller Center of the 21st century. That is such a bad joke. The fallacy is obvious: Rockefeller Center was the best that generation had to offer – the current plan represents the worst of ours. Rockefeller Center is symmetrical and harmonious – the WTC project is random and irrelevant. Rockefeller Center’s Promenade, flanked by twinned structures, leads to a real center – the WTC project is haphazard and disjointed.
But what makes the Silverstein comparison particularly inappropriate is that Rockefeller Center was solely financed by the Rockefeller family, while the World Trade Center is being solely financed by the American family – the Port Authority, New York and New Jersey, New York City, the Federal Government, the insurance proceeds from a policy taken out on the publicly-owned buildings, and the Liberty Bonds that taxpayers are underwriting — in each case it is the public’s pocket that is being picked.
Silverstein did get one thing right when he told a real estate conference last week that he still takes issue with the Freedom Tower’s “new” name. “They call it Tower 1, but for those of us who were here from the beginning, it’s the Freedom Tower. Always will be the Freedom Tower,” he said. What he didn’t add is that people know what One World Trade Center looks like and that isn’t it.
Finally, the Mayor’s mother just died at 102 and the burial was “private” — so there is no way of knowing for sure — but it is very good guess that her remains were not deposited in a city dump. Meanwhile, ten years after the worst day in our lives, what the Mayor’s Office calls “undifferentiated dirt” containing particles of the people who were lost on 9/11 is sitting on top of a mountain of refuse in a retired landfill. And that’s okay with Mayor Bloomberg because he is going to landscape the dump.
How can the victims’ families possibly forget that the ground is still bubbling with methane gas under the topsoil? The families were not looking for anything lavish — just respectful — and found an alternate location on Staten Island, but the Mayor probably used more of the public’s money fighting the transfer than it would have cost to simply honor their wishes. Worst of all is that he did it in our name, but most New Yorkers have no idea what the true facts are because, once again, the media dropped the ball.
How long are we going to let hard-hearted, big-headed, rogues get away with doing as they please, while we finance their rotten plans? How long will we listen to weak-kneed editors complain loudly and wring their hands, while they let PR operatives call the shots? When will we say “Enough!” with one voice? It’s starting to look like it will be sooner than later.
It’s not too late, because it’s never too late, to do the right thing. As Americans, that’s the least we can do.
Cameron’s message will be included in The Swindle At Ground Zero appeal to the two Governors. In a follow-up message he wrote:” Hopefully the publication will make Officials think about the size of people’s hearts rather than the size of their wallets. I would walk, run and swim to Manhattan if the Towers were rebuilt.” Maybe a light will go on when they read what he has to say. Maybe they will ask themselves how many others see it this way and start looking into how much better they can do for the people than to build a World Trade Center Of the Scoundrels, By the Scoundrels, and For the Scoundrels.
6/11/11 — “Credit Where Credit Is Due…” As we so often point out, the single most important reason to build new Twin Towers is because of the respect officials owe the American people and our system of government. The strategic counter-terrorism imperative is a close second. The comparison images on the To Tell the Truth page are worth a thousand words, but what the new WTC stands for matters so much more than what it looks like. Architectural vanity and conceit have no place at Ground Zero.
A story on the web this week was a reminder of why building better-than-ever Twin Towers is a matter of honor on many levels. It told of how an elderly Japanese husband and wife are rebuilding their home after the tsunami demolished it. The couple are building a replica of their former home, because it was the last house the wife’s brother, a carpenter, built before his death.
By the same token, the Twin Towers were an architect’s legacy — as well as that of others who were instrumental in making them a reality — including Guy Tozzoli and Leslie Robertson. The Towers were among the most recognized and symbolic landmarks ever built. Now David Childs wants the Freedom Tower — or, as Twin Towers advocate Joe Wright calls it: Zero World Trade Center — to be his claim to fame, but how would he like it if his most famous work were destroyed and then, when it could have been rebuilt, opportunistically replaced with some meaningless structure instead? The Twin Towers were twins for a reason…
The New Yorker Magazine’s architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, wrote that the banality of the Freedom Tower is obvious — and of course it is. The twin-towered Time Warner Center is a legacy David Childs can be proud of. The Freedom Tower is not a world-class building and is an embarrassment on so many levels — not the least of which is his willingness to dishonor what should be Minoru Yamasaki’s enduring legacy. It does him no credit and it never will. The sooner it is capped, the better.
6/8/11 — “An Idea Whose Time Is Coming…” A comment left on the petition yesterday began by asking if it is “all over for the Twin Towers Alliance?” It went on to observe that “it seems like there is no hope in seeing the Twin Towers rise again,” and concluded that the Twin Towers Alliance “failed and we have failed as a nation.”
Of course we understand his assessment, but we read the same newspapers as everyone else and still think there is indeed reason to hope that the Twin Towers will rise again at the World Trade Center. All it will take is leadership and vision, which both Governors Christie and Cuomo have demonstrated — and there are powerful reasons why they may soon join forces to rescue the Trade Center.
Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward likes to refer to the 9/11 Memorial as the sacred heart of the site, but what he and others have chosen to ignore from the start is that, for this generation, the entire sixteen acres is the sacred heart of our country. That is why it is our duty to object. The clear will of the American people has been ignored and the public made to pay for it.
Ground Zero is the very last place where we can tolerate a frontal assault on our founding principles. Our own elected officials lied to the American people and they are still lying. George Pataki started the lies, because he didn’t think the truth served his political agenda, but it is Michael Bloomberg who has used his tremendous media influence all along to keep the lies going.
As we noted in our “Spiraling Costs and Plummeting Hopes…” the press is engaging in a country-club approach to filtering out information that amounts to anti-trust. They should be held to at least as strict legal standards as purely commercial enterprises are, because the media’s primary role is to provide citizens with the essential information we need to govern our nation.
There have been a number of times in the past years when it seemed that the tide was turning and the time had come for new Twin Towers: First, when “Twin Towers II” came to national attention, followed by Donald Trump’s support by holding a press conference and welcoming the model and the crowds into the lobby of Trump Tower in May and June of 2005.
Other prime opportunities to fix the badly broken site came when we met with Chris Ward in September, 2008; when David Shuster brought so much attention to the issue at the beginning of 2009; and when the Arbitration Panel was deliberating in 2010.
At each of those times, and at others, the media could have brought facts to the attention of the American people that would have decided the matter on the spot and saved billions of wasted dollars and years of wasted time. But they buried the facts and substituted their twisted version of the truth instead. The New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo is a prime purveyor of distorted information.
Through all of this struggle we have been assuming that the time had come for this idea, believing that finally, good will and good sense would prevail, because it is the right cause. It was beyond our comprehension that people who had it in their power to bring great joy and healing to the American people, to lift our spirits and boost our national confidence in this uniquely profound way, would actually choose to block and undermine it instead just to enhance their own power.
By early 2010, it was obvious that good will and good sense were hostages of political and media corruption. So, instead of trying to persuade those in charge to do the right thing, we started pursuing the proof, through the Freedom of Information Law, that they have chosen over and over again to do the wrong thing. We found it. The record is clear and will be turned over to the Governors.
Now there is evidence that the honest politicians and the honest journalists can’t ignore. What happened at Ground Zero wasn’t just lack of vision and courage or a matter of opinion — it wasn’t just a failure of leadership — it was the sort of deceit amd misuse of public funds that in the private sector would land the perpetrators in front of a Grand Jury.
Chris Ward is boasting that “we built a new reality at the World Trade Center, and this transaction will be the exclamation point on that turnaround.” Does anyone honestly think that Conde Nast rushed to the World Trade Center just because they love the idea of walking into a bunker every morning? They wanted the address, not the building, and would likely prefer to walk into the real One World Trade Center instead. Sadly, Ward’s new reality is the old reality: mislead the people and misappropriate their property and money.
But there is a choreography of events that conniving politicans and the “captured” media are helpless to control. The overwhelming power of an idea whose time has come can be seen in the Middle East, where entrenched and ruthless dictators who ruled like supreme beings are being overthrown and punished.
It would have been far more fanciful if someone had predicted a year ago that Mubarek would be removed and that Assad and Gaddafi would be under seige than it is for The Twin Towers Alliance to predict that a correction is coming to the World Trade Center.
Those who are deforming and defacing the skyline above Ground Zero are exhibiting the same “like stealing candy from a baby” over-confidence that was so perfectly captured in the 2001 “Spider-Man” trailer that we have featured on the site before.
The conclusion of yesterday’s comment that “we have failed as a nation” will prove true if we do not reclaim the World Trade Center from those who are unfit to control it. But freedom and democracy are in the air — it is only a matter of time before they reach and transform the place where freedom was brutally attacked ten years ago and and democracy has been under seige ever since.
We don’t know when the WTC chickens will come home to roost, but trust us, they will and we are doing everything we can to ensure that reckoning comes while there is still a chance to build a real World Trade Center that all Americans can be proud of.
As Abba Eban, a diplomat and founder of the State of Israel, once observed: “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely, once they have exhausted all the other alternatives.” Click on the image above and stay tuned…
5/29/11 — “The Wrong Plan for the Wrong Reasons…” The most recent comment on the petition requires a comment in return and Memorial Day is a good time for it. The observation that the construction workers at Ground Zero don’t seem to care about what the Twin Towers stood for is understandable but couldn’t be more incorrect. Just as with the firefighters and police officers we visited on the TTA’s first Memorial Day, they were strongly in support of rebuilding the Twin Towers from the start, but they are very vulnerable to censure if they speak out and, at this point, believe that they are making the best of a bad situation… If they only knew!
We got an email last week from a supporter who writes in from New Jersey now and then. His stepfather was a construction worker at Ground Zero a few years ago, when we first heard from him. This is what he had to say last week:
As we wrote in the “Courage and Consequences” piece we posted after visiting at least half the police stations and fire houses in Manhattan on Memorial Day in 2006, one firefighter at the end of the day summed up what we had heard over and over “There is nothing the guys would love better…” Knowing that most Americans would echo those remarks if they knew a fraction of what is really going on is such an affront to the democratic spirit that so many heroes have died to preserve.
TTA Note: There is an update in the works for the bulletin below and as it is revised it will be re-dated. When it is complete it will be distilled into a much shorter message and widely distributed, with a link back to the final bulletin for those who want to know more.
5/15/11 — “Spiraling Costs and Plummeting Hopes…” The latest twist at the WTC site is that the Port Authority “quietly” scrapped the plan to disguise the Freedom Tower’s bunker base with “prismatic glass”, because it proved “difficult to manufacture…” But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions simply because $10 million was wasted on something that hadn’t already been adequately tested… A PA spokesman revealed they are now “finalizing a design that will be far more practical while being both distinctive and magnificent.” What a relief!
It’s hard to appreciate just how much $10 million dollars is, considering all the WTC billions that have been spent or pledged. And, after all, a mere $10 million dollars down The Big Drain is, for instance, just 20% of the projected cost of running the waterfalls and the rest of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on an annual basis. In other words, operating the 9/11 memorial complex will cost almost a quarter of what it costs to run the Metropolitan Museum or the Metropolitan Opera! But what’s another $10 million give-or-take?
The 9/11 Families never asked for a memorial that is expected to consume 1 megawatt of electricity per hour — enough to power about 800 average homes, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. To the contrary — many of them fought the design. If the “memorial jury” had been a jury of the public’s peers, instead of Michael Bloomberg’s peers, it would look entirely different today. And the fact that it is being built with private funds doesn’t make the extravagance any less deranged.
That is one more bizarre example of a preposterous site-wide agenda that was concocted in secret, hidden from public scrutiny, and then force-fed to the public after the fact. But does the whole site have to be a consolation prize? Are we doomed to spiraling costs and plummeting hopes? The real reason we are spending more on a transit “hub” than on one Twin Tower is due to media malpractice. The paying public needs a media that asks questions, and demands answers instead of one that dutifully regurgitates press releases.
The New York Times generously attributed Christopher Ward’s latest screw-up to “the tension inherent in the entire $3.2 billion project: how to create a skyscraper that is at once iconic and defended against terrorism, while also containing costs.” That’s like saying when your floor starts sagging that it illustrates the tension inherent in living with termites.
The inherent tension comes from placing the tower in the absolute worst, least defensible, position on the property and then choosing every fix except the obvious one. The inherent tension comes from refusing to face the facts. And that myopia is being repeated all over the site. As soon as officials finally put on their glasses and admit that it’s a colossal mistake, we can get on with building a colossal triumph instead — because a real solution, one that is immeasurably satisfying in the eyes of most people, already exists.
Those in charge must be taking their chances that a miracle will prevent the inevitable flop, because there are rarely any consequences for robbing and screwing the public. But that’s not their decision to make at the public’s expense. It’s time for the media to stop giving officials a pass to La-La Land. It’s time for a convoy of Orkin Men to descend on the WTC site.
The billions that Chris Ward has squandered on a third-rate plan would be outrageous even if he didn’t know of a plan that could powerfully address all the flaws of the current project. But he did know of it. If he didn’t believe that it had far greater support with the American people — the suckers who are paying for it — then the January, 2009, MSNBC poll should have settled that. And if he doubted it could outperform the current project he was obligated to prove it, because it is not his money that he is spending so freely.
When this is all over, the proper authorities should see to it that Ward derives no future benefits from his public dis-service; in fact, instead of asking the public to subsidize his ill-deserved retirement, he should be asked to pay for ripping us off. And he is one of many. The most accomplished damage-control experts in the city won’t be able to revise this history. The villainy at the Trade Center is well-documented, as is the extensive collateral damage. When will a public servant in the media start connecting the dots?
The glass fiasco is a good metaphor for the whole lose-lose project. Three American companies spent millions competing for the $82 million contract to manufacture and install the base facade, before it was outsourced to a Chinese company that in turn failed to deliver. Then, only after the ill-conceived, highly publicized, component of the project was finally cancelled, could Port Authority officials start focusing on “a design that will be far more practical while being both distinctive and magnificent.”
Back in the spring of 2005, when the NYPD went public with their concerns about the Freedom Tower’s vulnerability, that announcement coincided with the debut of “Twin Towers II” — a plan that positions the two towers for maximum defensibility. The irony is that, at a time when officials had nothing but their egos invested in Ground Zero, they buried a plan that could have solved all their problems and would be, without a doubt, fully constructed and open for business and pleasure today. Imagine that.
The late, great, Tony Snow first featured it on Fox News and David Shuster showcased it on MSNBC. But those who were desperate to defeat the plan were given a gift when Donald Trump stepped forward and offered to display the 10-ft. presentation model of “Twin Towers II” in the lobby of Trump Tower. That allowed detractors to mischaracterize a brilliant achievement that had been designed and engineered at the grassroots level by making it all about Trump.
Officials had other prime opportunities to look into the “Twin Towers II” claims in 2008 and 2009, when most of the investment at the site had gone into the groundwork, but their blinders were glued to their heads. Meanwhile, the media stepped aside and allowed the public to be hoodwinked. People know it’s not right because it doesn’t ring true, but they don’t have a clue just how wrong it really is. And they have no idea that they are carrying Silverstein on their backs — because they are being fed garbage for facts.
Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post published one of his pompous, know-it-all columns last week. He had the nerve to refer to the Mutt and Jeff towers as “a pair”. While The New Yorker’s architecture critic finds the Freedom Tower “stunningly mediocre” and the other three towers marginally “better than the junk on Third Avenue”, the NY Post’s architecture/food critic and gossip columnist (no kidding) thinks we are building “two of the world’s greatest new office towers.” Apparently, intoxicants are allowed on his job.
He closed the paean with his standard lame assertion that Twin Towers supporters are fanatics who want to build forty-year old buildings. The inconvenient truth is that a majority of the people in this country would love to see stunning, redesigned, reengineered Twin Towers rise from the ashes, not only of 9/11, but also of the demoralization that followed — courtesy of charlatans like Cuozzo.
As usual, his opinion reads like something dictated by the Port Authority’s press office or Howard Rubenstein’s PR palace. According to Rubenstein Associates’ website, they specialize in “strategic communications and media relations” and offer “solutions that support the full range of client objectives.” Unfortunately for us, the public is not one their clients, while Larry Silverstein and Mike Bloomberg are.
So what happens when the public’s objectives conflict with Rubenstein’s clients’ objectives? Whose “strategic communications” get funneled into every home — and far more critically — whose do not? When they are promoting a project that is diverting billions of the public’s dollars away from a plan to build the far more appropriate, popular, feasible, marketable, and above all, inspiring Twin Towers, and into a fatally flawed project that keeps getting less viable by the day, they are functioning as lobbyists.
When “media relations” means not only having the clout to get press releases, op-eds, and interviews before the public eye, but also, the force majeure to keep other information out of the public eye, democracy itself is threatened.
If media professionals doubted the “Twin Towers II” promise to save billions of dollars and years of time, they had a duty to report it and to try to debunk the claims — not with the dubious opinions of dubious “experts” — but with head-to-head facts. The last two years’ activity at the site has now eroded the enormous cost savings, but the considerable savings in time still holds. And the end result would be quantitatively more valuable.
Why should there be anti-trust laws to protect competition in the marketplace, but not in the marketplace of ideas, where so much damage can be done?
The de facto boycott of a plan that could demonstrate its superiority, if given the chance, is at the public’s astronomical expense and still climbing. Where is the accountability? When it comes to the public’s right to know, when information is not allowed to compete and influence counts for more than credibility, democracy itself is under attack.
Of course, Michael Bloomberg doesn’t need Howard Rubenstein to apply pressure on the media, because as an October 18, 2009, New York Magazine cover-story revealed: “Mike Bloomberg Owns This Town.” If there is anyone who knows how to give democratic objections a swift kick in the teeth, it is Mayor Bloomberg. That article revealed the depressing news that the publishers of the New York Times, Daily News, and New York Post are just a few of the media notables regularly in attendance at his “dinner parties.”
Corporate lobbying has no place at Ground Zero. Why should political lobbyists be regulated, while PR lobbyists are not — even when the future of a cherished public holding is at stake? Bloomberg, Rubenstein, Silverstein, Ward, Sulzberger, Zuckerman, and Murdoch may honestly believe that they are advancing the public’s best interests, but only an informed public can say for sure.
Unfortunately, they have been spared the details required to make an informed decision. And the result is clear to see in the Mutt and Jeff skyline, with stumps instead of a center, and ever-diminishing returns on the public’s massive investment — no thrilling outdoor observation deck, no fabulous sky-top restaurant, no excitement, no tenants, no accountability, no respect.
The wind-up is that those who inflicted this horrendous offense on the American people are less to blame than those who could have protected us and didn’t.
What the public has been treated to in the last ten years is the equivalent of sitting in the stands at a World Series watching in disbelief while one heavy-hitter after doesn’t even swing at the ball. The disgrace of fixing a ballgame or fixing a fight is nothing compared to the shame of defrauding the American people of the World Trade Center they deserve.
It all boils down to veracity. The more complicated life gets for the man and woman on the street, the more critical it is that we get unvarnished news we can trust, before the termites of unbridled self-interest undermine our country. No one in their right mind would let termites go untreated. But that is what the media is doing at the World Trade Center and then they are shocked each time another support crumbles. The PR/Media control of the WTC is going to become a case study in the toxic effects of making the press just one more corporate body, with corporate priorities and flimsy principles. In the end, everybody loses — nobody wins.
Fortunately, even at this point there is a solution — and it offers the media a chance to redeem themselves. The way to “create a skyscraper that is at once iconic and defended against terrorism, while also containing costs” is simple: Stop lying about our options.
5/8/11 — “Almost There…” The revamped site is almost finished, although we ran into a snag with the code that may take a day or two to work out. If we have any supporters with WordPress coding experience, who would be interested in helping us maintain the site going forward, please call or write.
4/30/11 — “Home Sweet Home…” The new homepage is in flux and much of the original content will appear on a new page — homepagetwo.html — while new content is added to the homepage. But it will take a while before the site is completely converted. As for the new “Index” link, we will at some point provide an organized index to the site.
4/27/11 — “What’s Wrong With This Picture…?” A website promoting the new Nanjing World Trade Center is a goldmine of information. We didn’t need a knowledge of Chinese characters to get the message of the World Trade Centers pictured on the Flash introduction. Once inside the site, the five centers pictured below are identified from left to right as the Beijing WTC, Dubai WTC, Nanjing WTC, New York WTC, Bahrain WTC.
In sharp contrast, NJ.com today published a review of a “The Tallest Building In the World.” The sub-headline read: “New play tells tale of the construction of the World Trade Center.” And that’s the whole problem with the tower that The New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger has called “stunningly mediocre.” What was known, until 2001, as “the” World Trade Center is now just going to be one of many. But this not just another city or just another country.
The review started off by observing: “While John F. Kennedy was intent on getting a man to the moon, Guy Tozzoli was shooting for a corner of the sky just a bit lower.” Now, the architects of our destiny are happy to just fit in. But a tower that fits right in with Bahrain and Nanjing does not fit in New York. As wonderful as it is that the world is developing and people everywhere are coming into their own, New York is a special place, not just in our minds and hearts, but in theirs too.
A Port Authority ad in a 1982 NYC guidebook touting the complex’s amenities pointed out that the South Tower’s observation deck was the tallest outdoor deck on earth and concluded with the marvelously whimsical warning: “And in the evening, please don’t touch the stars.” We, the People of the United States, never agreed to stop trying to touch the sky. That’s what makes the current project at Ground Zero such a letdown.
4/27/11 — “Pardon Our Dust…” Our website is being renovated. The new format will be published on the Home page by Sunday and the rest will be converted slowly but surely. The original website was not createdusing a template, so now we find we can’t make the changes a globally. Please excuse the rough edges until the transition is complete.
4/17/11 — “The World Trade Center*…” Even before Barry Bonds was convicted of lying, his career had an asterisk after it. But cheating the public at America’s Favorite Pastime pales beside robbing the public of America’s Favorite Skyline. After ten years, the American people deserve so much better than a World Trade Center with an asterisk after its name.
When Dr. Feelgood arrived in 2008 and started shooting the WTC full of steroids, it was, by all indications, getting ready to die a natural death. Director Ward was shown the blueprints of a plan that could have saved billions of squandered dollars and years of wasted time. But rather than rocking the boat by doing the analysis that would either confirm or refute those compelling claims, he decided to mainline performance-enhancing lies into a losing proposition instead.
Of course, Mr. Ward wasn’t the only one misrepresenting the facts. That dishonor goes to a number of prominent individuals, including Michael Bloomberg. They think they’ve pulled it off and the public will never learn how the Twin Towers they could have had were replaced with twin stumps. But Barry Bonds didn’t think he’d get caught either. And even after he was, he thought he could lie his way out of it. High-powered fibbers just assume they will get away with it because they live in a bubble — and then they are always so surprised when it pops.
The recent investor challenge to the Liberty Bonds that were withheld from the market for a second false start in just a couple of months is more than just another bump in the road. Speaking for multiple investors who hold more than $1.2 billion in Port Authority bonds, an attorney said that they “strongly oppose the Port Authority leapfrogging over its existing debt holders and giving away our collateral position to this new set of bondholders.” In other words, they don’t have a lot of confidence in the creditworthiness of the project — with good reason.
But the offense at Ground Zero goes far beyond lying and cheating. When we say below that the American public is being raped at Ground Zero that is not tasteless hyperbole. Just pointing out that we are being robbed and mugged doesn’t convey the indecency of what officials are doing: We are being violated by those who should be protecting us.
Christopher London, an attorney by day, a photo-journalist by night, and a native New Yorker and supporter of the Twin Towers all around the clock recently blogged: “…all around us I witness the disintegration of American culture and values, not knowing for sure where it all ends but recognizing for sure where it all began.
He appreciates full well what too many of us miss: What is built at Ground Zero is relevant for every one of us. Two hundred and thirty-six years ago tonight, twin lamps in a Boston belfry started Paul Revere on his famous ride. The twin battles of Lexington and Concord that followed don’t belong to the political fringes but to mainstream America. And as long as the people believe that our government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed,” the powers-that-be at the WTC will have problems that go far beyond unhappy investors.
4/16/11 — “His Majesty, the American Citizen…” A famous encounter that Frank Lloyd Wright had explains the TTA mission perfectly. In 1957, when he was nearly 90, Wright was invited to design an opera house for the city of Baghdad. In a royal audience, when presented to “His Majesty, King Faisal II,” Wright replied, “And I am His Majesty, the American Citizen.”
When we started Rebuild-The-Towers.org in May, 2005, followed by The Twin Towers Alliance in March, 2006, it was to address the disdain for the American Citizen that officials have shown at the WTC site from the start. No matter how much we supported rebuilding the Towers, we would never have devoted all these years to mere buildings. But the journey has been the reward. It has molded us — and we hope some of our supporters — into more muscular citizens.
Our last year has been taken up with filing, tracking, and appealing Freedom of Information requests. It has been tremendously rewarding to discover that marvelous law and it is getting more rewarding all the time. We will share the startling specifics as soon as possible, and people are going to be astonished by all that has developed and is being revealed.
Anyone who thinks the struggle for Ground Zero is over is being shortsighted. The process that gave us the current project was utterly corrupt and an attack on the supremacy of the American Citizen — which we can now demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt. Therefore, anyone who is willing to wink or yawn at the lies that robbed us of the recovery we had every right to expect is dragging their own mantle of Citizen in the mud.
But Alexander Davison wasn’t one of them — he really got it. Alex was a TTA supporter who volunteered his graphics skills to advance this cause. Last year, when we started pointing out that WTC 2 and 3 aren’t likely to be built anytime soon and that we could be stuck with a Mutt and Jeff skyline for a long time — maybe forever — Alex revised the “Where Am I” image at the top of this page, removing towers 2 & 3, and sent it to us out of the blue.
He went on to do all the updating of the facades on the “Twin Towers II” website. In July, we posted his stunning Twin Towers rendering at the top of “A More Perfect Union.” Then, in a message a few months ago he wrote to ask if there is any hope left of seeing the Twins back where they belong: “I have been supporting this movement since the minute the North Tower fell. I’ve tried to help in all the ways I can.”
He was encouraged by our answer and a month later spent a solid week working with us on the cover for “The Swindle At Ground Zero | Selling America Short.” That’s his flag filling the sky. We expect to finalize it and distribute it in May and then the cover will be his final tribute to all that we are fighting for… because, we just learned that after writing last month to say he had finished the cover and the poster, he was killed in a car accident.
Alex understood what is at stake at the World Trade Center and he cared deeply. Those who get misled by all the fancy renderings of waterfalls and trees and shimmering facades are standing up much too close. The only view that matters is the one pictured above, because that’s “it” for a long time — that’s the one the world will see — that’s the one that shames us all — that’s the one we can still replace with dazzling new Twin Towers.
The specifics of how much sense it makes and how we can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat will be explained in “The Swindle At Ground Zero” in much greater detail than we share on this site. But it is a sign of the times that the cure for the WTC that we have been promoting since 2008 is about to be put into practice in a limited way by selling the public shares in the Empire State Building.
Whether one admired the Twin Towers or not, no one in his or her right mind could prefer the skyline above to new, majestic, Twin Towers. But this is, above all, a battle of principle, not buildings. As we recently pointed out to the Port Authority Commissioners, none of them would pass by a woman being raped, or cross to the other side of the street to escape her cries — and yet, the American Public is being raped at Ground Zero and they are turning a deaf ear.
But we won’t let them, because we truly believe that — to borrow from Ernest Hemingway — if we win here we will win everywhere. Rest in peace, Alex — we won’t let you down. Thank you for pouring your heart into fighting something so wrong and for wanting so badly to make it right.
3/27/11 — “Zerogate…” Either Chris Ward’s sensitive side is finally showing or the Port Authority’s PR department has been working overtime, courtesy of the toll-paying public. When sharing his vision for the future WTC with the media, Ward recently gushed: “It will be a place where you meet a friend for lunch. Where you meet a date. Where you race across the plaza and beneath the trees to get out of the rain. We want New Yorkers to make their own narrative there.”
He can count on that. If officials get their way, there will naturally be some who buy into the PA–Silverstein–Bloomberg–Durst spin, but it is far more likely that people will be talking about what isn’t there than what is: the restaurant, the Koenig Sphere, the observation deck, the wonder…
As Nicole Gelinas warned in a 2005 column: “To build anything that is not as good or better will always mean that the thousands who work around, and eventually within, the complex will always recall the original with longing. To fail would be the saddest memorial to all that was destroyed.”
In the narrative of those who know the process was rigged, they will probably look at the Freedom Tower and marvel that anyone actually thought that was worth the price of one new Twin Tower. Then they may look at the oculus over the transit hub and wonder how anyone ever thought it was worth spending more on that than on a second Twin Tower. Then they might look at the Silverstein dwarf tower and ask why the public is subsidizing a building full of government offices.
If they have visited the Twin Towers Alliance they will probably wonder out loud why a man who got the original sub-prime mortgage, personally investing $114 million for the right to operate the Twin Towers, gets to live off the Towers’ insurance money, while the public picks up the bulk of the rebuilding tab. And then they may look at the stumps and think about what might have been.
The agenda at the WTC has always depended upon limiting what the public knows about the project. Information has been managed and expectations lowered for so long that the outcome seems inevitable. But once “The Swindle At Ground Zero” is distributed, we don’t see how any self-respecting journalist can avoid the questions that have gone unasked.
The American people deserve to know if the WTC project is legitimate or not. That’s hardly too much to ask. We think it is the ultimate in hype and subterfuge. In the past four years we have given officials ample opportunity to demonstrate that we are wrong, and so far, all they have done is to confirm how right we are.
The Ground Zero cover-up is actually more scandalous, corrosive, and far-reaching than Watergate ever was. Ward & Co. think they can pull the wool over the public’s eyes, because we are all so sick of the empty pit, and they are confident that no one with political influence or media clout will stop them. They seem to think they can outbuild the truth.
But something that is illegitimate from the start doesn’t gain legitimacy with time. It’s like lying on a resume — it doesn’t matter where the lie may take a person — once found out they retire in disgrace. They don’t keep their status and get validated after the fact. And neither can the most important building project in our history — no matter how much (or especially how much) of the public’s money has been misappropriated to build it.
Like Diogenes, the Greek Cynic philosopher who famously roamed the streets with his lamp looking in vain for an honest man, the WTC thugs are betting that there is not a single honest man or woman in the press with the guts to expose what they are doing. That’s a bad bet. On the other hand, exposing everything that has been done to suppress and distort the popular will and getting a national dialogue started only requires that we find that one honest man or woman with both power and principles who will not look away. Those are good odds.
Officials crossed the line as surely as Richard Nixon ever did but no one is connecting the dots. It has been stunning to see how something with nothing going for it but political brute force has been able to sedate the conscience and curiosity of professional journalists. But our numerous and ongoing FOIL requests are yielding telling results — most not yet documented on this site. Putting together the FOIL history and our contacts with top-tier state and city officials over the years, we can chronicle a callous pattern of intra-agency obstruction that smacks of collusion.
Of course we know what a long-shot our efforts seem to be. No one knows better than we do how long this has been going on, because we have been at it around the clock for six years. But lying amd cheating is not a matter of executive privilege. It is not just dishonest or high-handed — it is illegal. We will therefore continue to press the case until it receives the attention it deserves.
America is above all an ideal — one that those who died on 9/11 believed in — and our greatest security rests in being true. It is worth any amount of effort to deny the Bin Ladens of this world the satisfaction of thinking that we allow our officials to mock us and that what the American people want really doesn’t matter at all.
There has always been enormous bipartisan support — over 90% in a 2009 MSNBC poll — for rebuilding better-than-ever Twin Towers, so how fitting and historic it would be if Governors Cuomo and Christie would now step in to save the day. It would take a lot of confidence to pull the plug on this losing proposition, but if anyone has what it takes to carry it off it is these two men.
All they have to do is use the yardsticks to measure the WTC that they used to tame their runaway budgets. They will find that the current project makes no fiscal, civic, or strategic sense. They will see that there is still hope of building a World Trade Center that would be a credit to our national character — and to their own characters and administrations as well.
By capping the Freedom Tower, renegotiating Silverstein the Freeloader’s contracts, scaling back the transit “hub”, forgetting about the “oculus”, and building state-of-the-art Twin Towers beside the 9/11 Memorial, they would show that our country is finally coming back to life.
Otherwise, they’ll be putting their stamp on something that will impoverish the entire country, not just in the near term, but as long as there is an American narrative. Because the Twin Towers were not generic buildings. They were world-famous icons of an exuberant and dynamic nation. They actually stood for something. And if they are lost to us, so is what they stood for.
3/21/11 — “The Short Version…” The Huffington Post News Editors posted a “report“ on the 19th that was obviously incubated, if not hatched, in the Port Authority’s Public Relations department. There is a box in the middle of the column identified as an “Advertisement” — but that box belonged around the entire column.
It is hard to stand out when an article draws hundreds of comments, but we make a point of leaving a summary in any reputable forum discussing the WTC that we come across, since most people know next to nothing about what is really happening at the World Trade Center site. Space is usually tight, so we write what we hope will make people question the information they’ve been given and always mention the TTA website, in case someone wants to know more…
The editors of the Huffington Post may be willing to overlook the fact that officials are selling America short at Ground Zero, as their vision of “the future emerges” — or they may not realize they are being used to distort reality. But in any case, they will not have the last word.
3/14/11 — “Pluperfect Vanity…” The New York Post reported last week: “New World Trade Center developers scrap plans for Windows on the World-type restaurant.” In the Post exclusive, the Port Authority’s pompous Executive Director Chris Ward said: “These things are always money-losers. We think we can achieve a far better financial return given the [quality of the] space and avoid all the complexities.” And Ward told the Daily News: “We don’t build vanity projects at the top of tall buildings.”
But “Windows on the World” was THE top-grossing restaurant in the United States. According to Wikipedia, it reported revenues of $37 million in 2000, which is a third of Silverstein’s annual 2001 rent for 10 million square feet of the Trade Center. The whole project is a travesty and a crime against the American people.
A commenter on a Huffington Post report on the Port Authority’s announcement observed:
Ward’s ridiculous remarks are fresh proof that the Ground Zero gangsters are not only corrupt, but also incompetent, tone-deaf, and not fit to run the publicly funded rebuilding of the publicly owned site. The American taxpayers have invested tens of billions of dollars to build a World Trade Center worthy of the price we paid on 9/11 and the cost goes on.
Constructing so-so buildings that are an embarrassment to the whole country, financed by tax and toll dollars, beside an extravagant, morbid memorial, while Larry Silverstein raids the Twin Towers’ insurance proceeds to pay his rent, his architects, his lawyers, and even himself — taking back the down-payment he and his partners’ paid for the leases — is obscene.
Ward’s choice of words could not have been more perfect because vanity is the key component of the whole unbelievable mess at Ground Zero — not just at the top of one tall building, but over every inch of the site. The public has been paying through the nose for ten years for George “Freedom Tower” Pataki’s vanity, Larry “free ride” Silverstein’s vanity, the Port “transit hub” Authority’s vanity, the Community “street grid” Planners vanity, Michael “because I said so” Bloomberg’s vanity, the Mainstream “all the news that’s fit to print” Media’s vanity, and Chris “leave the gun, take the cannoli” Ward’s vanity. We could go on, but those are the central culprits.
And it will only become a taller and taller mess unless the media starts paying attention to the real story and asking the real questions instead of being stuck-on-stupid parrots of high-priced PRopaganda. What Ward made clear once again is that the Port Authority functionaries couldn’t care less what the People want, New York needs, or America deserves.
Does anyone with influence care enough to speak out? In the words of another Huffington Post commenter:
And all the Homeland Security money can buy will not protect a country run by officials who refuse to listen to the people. But this is the perfect time and place to reverse that arrogance and abuse of power. Once “The Swindle At Ground Zero | Selling America Short” is printed and distributed to officials and civic leaders it will be clear how much more appropriate and affordable building new Twin Towers beside the 9/11 Memorial would be.
It is not too late to do the right thing and do the thing right. We can still make the entire site a monument to the system of government that puts the people in charge of their destiny. That is, after all, what all the war memorials honor — what all the sacrifice has been about.
3/13/11 — “The Swindle at Ground Zero…” A major meltdown of the main TTA computer has set “The Swindle at Ground Zero | Selling America Short” back at least two weeks, but we are confident that when it is released it will be very hard to dismiss. Our entire focus is on getting it printed and distributed, so again, we ask those who write and call to understand our silence.
2/26/11 — “All-Dollars-and-No-Sense Update…” The Port Authority Commissioners approved an increase in the Transit Hub’s budget that will bring the original $2.2 billion price tag to $3.44 billion. But that should come as no surprise, since they commissioned a world-famous architect who is well-known for busting budgets.It was an outrageous price to begin with — and last year it was reported that the final cost is likely to top $4 billion. It is obvious that the inmates are running the asylum. But the Governors of New York and New Jersey are no fools. They are both as sharp as they come.
2/14/11 — “Mayor Mubarak…” We have been so focussed on the book we are preparing and the management of our Freedom of Information requests that everything else, including bulletins, has been put on a back burner. But a comment left today on the TTA petition would touch all but the most hardened hearts and deserves its own bulletin…
We won’t, Andrej — we promise. Nothing has fundamentally changed since we wrote five years ago that “we recognize no financial or political roadblocks that cannot be overcome if rebuilding the Towers is the will of the people.” We believe that a change in perception is still all that really stands between us and new Twin Towers.
We have all seen how quickly perceptions can change. Across the Middle East, democracy is suddenly breaking through what seemed to be authoritarian permafrost, while here in the so-called bastion of democracy, We the People are losing ground. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the World Trade Center.
Mayor Bloomberg’s nine-year virtual dictatorship, cost him a quarter of a billion dollars to secure — and the good will of those who resent electoral tampering — but it cost citizens much, much more. We may find 311 useful and many appreciate the smoke-free environment, but the price was way too high.
That price includes leaving the unrecovered human remains of 9/11 mixed with garbage in a city dump (since closed) — and no amount of topsoil or flowers could ever make that right.
The price includes what a Daily News headline called “a sham memorial,” in which, 9/11 brother Michael Burke explained in his op-ed, “a handful of elites will control what you can know in order to dictate what you should think and feel. That’s exactly why what we are building at Ground Zero is such a disgrace — in fact, it’s an obscenity.”
And, of course, it includes replacing the preeminent symbols of America’s Can-Do spirit with a monument to Can’t Do mediocrity. Mayor Bloomberg is only one of the officials who cynically robbed the people of this country — and the world — of what could have been an incredibly ennobling recovery — but he was at the center of depriving the people of the Twin Towers, which could have been built twice for what has already been spent.
And no one was as cheated as the young people. Andrej’s comments represent a generation, who need to see that when terrible things happen, those they look up to can and will make them right. They need to believe that they live in an honorable world. Even if it were decided tomorrow that the Towers will rise again, the years of wasted opportunity are gone forever.
1/30/11 — “The Sounds of Silence…” It was announced this week that Jon Stewart has joined the board of the National September 11th Memorial & Museum. Stewart was instrumental in bringing attention to the languishing 9/11 First Responders Bill, for which we should all be grateful. But we cannot help but be concerned that a voice that has been fearless in exposing official arrogance and misconduct may now start pulling his punches.
We hope not. If anyone is above getting sucked into Bloomberg’s orbit, it’s Jon Stewart, who pointed out in an interview in the fall with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC that the problems in our country are not a matter of right vs. left, but of “corruption and not corruption.” But the credit he is due for embarrassing lawmakers who were ready to defeat the James Zadroga Act into doing the right thing, doesn’t change the fact that it was years past due. If all it took was a spotlight, better late than never, but in the meantime, years of suffering and hardship were borne by those who should not have had to ask twice for help.
Now that our debt to the first responders is finally going to be paid, it does not remove the black mark that years of default left on our nation’s credit report. But it is a giant step in the right direction. Another tremendous debt that we still owe is to insist on moving the final resting place of those who were killed on 9/11 out of a dump. That is another example of vital information that has been kept out of the nation’s bloodstream. WTC Families for Proper Burial fought all the way to the Supreme Court to remedy the insult of consigning what remained of the Trade Center and the 9/11 victims to a landfill. Mayor Bloomberg has a right to be small-minded and opinionated. The courts can’t do anything about that. The 9/11 families would have had a much better chance of making their case before the court of public opinion instead — and they still can — it is the perfect issue for the time.
The victims’ families suggested remedies that included moving the tons of WTC “debris” to a spot elsewhere on Staten Island — they weren’t asking for the moon. After all, the site was cleared months ahead of time — at a tremendous savings. It is only right that a small portion of the money workers saved would be available to correct something so indecent. In any case, the price tag does not always trump everything else — which Michael Bloomberg must believe since he is backing a billion-dollar memorial, that many 9/11 families find disturbing and inappropriate, when a far more uplifting memorial would cost a fraction as much.
The media has often obliged officials by mischaracterizing the victims’ families to take the heat off themselves. But this travesty is particularly egregious. If it really doesn’t matter where people are buried, as Michael-I’m-giving-my-body-to-science-Bloomberg apparently believes, then there is no reason for anymore cemeteries – an unmarked dumpster should do. But most of us don’t share his care-less philosophy and would be revolted to learn that under the topsoil of the now-closed Fresh Kills dump, mixed in with the garbage, is the DNA of our countrymen who died horrible deaths only because they were Americans.
Which brings us to the inevitable corollary to Ground Zero: Just imagine how much different the landscape at the site would be today if only Jon Stewart and others in the media had put a klieg light on the World Trade Center instead of leaving David Shuster to do the heavy-lifting alone. How can the media spend hour after hour debating health care and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” but never give the debate on Ground Zero a hearing? It is much easier to repair a bad bill, than it is to correct a bad building. All we have ever asked for is due diligence and it is certainly not too late to subject the current plan to that.
If officials had their reasons for defeating the will of the people back in 2002, those reasons had evaporated by 2005, when “Twin Towers II” was first brought to the public’s attention. And there was certainly no justification in 2008, when Chris Ward chose to ignore the superior claims of “Twin Towers II.” But regardless of what officials were up to, where was the media? And where are they now?
The countdown to the tenth anniversary of the attacks has begun. The first of the 10th anniversary tributes, “”Rebirth,” just premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The documentaries and publications to follow will give important perspective to our still searing pain – but how will self-respecting journalists and filmmakers explain the deafening silence surrounding the movement to rebuild what the People Want, New York needs, and America deserves?
One person should not be able to get away with undermining the aspiration of millions of people, just because he does not share their hopes. No doubt the mayor thinks that he is doing what is best for the people, but when he is wrong there is no one willing to tell him so. We have been told, off-the-record, by everyone from regularly published journalists to senior Congressional staffers, that no one wants to cross Michael Bloomberg. And that has played an incalculably decisive role in defeating the will of the people for the World Trade Center.
The defining face-off that is now taking place over the treasured Central Park landmark, Tavern on the Green, could shed a lot of light on the struggle for Ground Zero. Once again, Donald Trump has come forward with a vision to bring a legendary part of the city back to life, by making the shuttered restaurant — which was the second-highest-grossing restaurant when Windows on the World was the first — better than ever. And once again, Mayor Bloomberg is playing the spoiler.
That prompted a great fan of the Twin Towers to write in “BLOOMBERG STARS IN ‘HONEY, I SHRUNK (THE SOUL 0F) NEW YORK CITY:’”
Mayor Bloomberg: Thanks for “311” but please stop doing our thinking for us. That’s not your place. New Yorkers know what they like. Try asking for a change.
Mr. Trump: Don’t cave in to the Bloomberg machine. The people are counting on you…
1/27/11 — “Michael Bloomberg’s Memorial…” Two items that have made news in the past few days illustrate just how illegitmate and dismissive the regime at the WTC site really is. Americans’ rights to an authentic World Trade Center with an authentic memorial are being held hostage by designers, committees, and juries who have no clue what most Americans want to see at the site of our darkest day.
We explained in the last bulletin why we have not challenged the 9/11 Memorial, as inappropriate as we think it is. But a very disturbing item in the Tribeca Citizen earlier this week illustrated how badly out of touch and wrongheaded the WTC program really is. It reported that the Port Authority is preparing to put the Koenig Sphere — the battered relic that withstood the 9/11 attacks — into storage! “The Fritz Koenig sculpture, which once anchored the World Trade Center plaza and was damaged but not destroyed on 9/11, is getting kicked out of its temporary home in Battery Park later this year and has nowhere to go.”
A message to 9/11 Families from Michael Burke, brother of Capt. William F. Burke, Jr., Eng. Co. 21, was broadcast on Wednesday through the “9/11 List-Serv” Google Group, putting the matter into alarming perspective:
How much more insane do things have to get at the World Trade Center before we finally put a stop to it? What will it take for people to realize that those in charge have a very different agenda than the rest of us? Maybe the following New York Post headline that appeared last weekend will make that clear: “9/11 museum bigs cash in.” It continued: “Kids’ small donations pay for inflated salaries.” Read it and weep in frustration. But that’s what happens when a mayor gets away with something as atrocious as consigning the remains of 9/11 to a city dump — he figures that he can do anything he pleases. He seems to be right.
1/26/11 — “Coming Full Circle…” We have been receiving a lot of calls and emails asking what the chances are that we will ever see the Twin Towers back where they belong. To be clear, we at the Twin Towers Alliance have always believed that where they truly belong is exactly where they stood when thousands of people walked through their doors, never to walk out again — standing tall beside a fitting memorial. And if only Governor George Pataki had led, instead of pandering, that is where they would be today. He, and every Governor since, has actually had the executive power to correct a terrible error in judgment — once our national concussion cleared — if they had had the courage and vision to admit the mistakes.
One thing we’ve learned over the past five years of relentless effort is that not only do politicians cover up their own [mistakes], but they apparently feel obliged to cover up each other’s as well, while the public is left out in the cold. A recent comment on the petition expressed the current situation perfectly: “I don’t want to look down from the new WTC and be forever reminded of a sick past.” Fighting Michael Bloomberg’s memorial was not winnable, because there are too many PR dollars manipulating the outcome. But restoring the familiar face of New York — instead of making the world look at the results of botched plastic surgery — is winnable. And that would be the most inspiring memorial of all.
Restoring the skyline with state-of-the-art towers never required going back to the beginning, as officials knowingly tried to misrepresent. That is what the fully designed “Twin Towers II” plan by structural engineer Kenneth Gardner and the late Herbert Belton, AIA, offered. When Ken Gardiner and the directors of the TTA spent the better part of an hour in September, 2008, in the office of Port Authority Director Christopher Ward, it seemed that he was going to keep his word to look into the claims that a transition to the plan the American people much prefer would save billions of dollars and years of time.
If he had done what he said he would do, when the World Trade Center was nothing but contracts and promises — as it was his duty to do — he would have discovered those claims were true. But that would have been inconvenient and would have involved admitting that mistakes were made, which is against their code of omerta.
So where do things stand now that the Freedom Tower is more than halfway up? Over the weekend we received the following message from Alex Davison, a supporter who last summer updated many of the “Twin Towers II” graphics to reflect the newer facade:
We don’t know when the Port Authority has ever listened, but they are not quite as all-powerful as it may seem. We are working on “Coming Full Circle” — our answer to Alex and all who have hoped to see America’s Skyline made whole — which will be posted at the top of the Home page even as it is being added to — so check back. It is being developed at the same time that we are pursuing the LMDC Freedom of Information requests, reaching out to the Governors, and finalizing our book to Washington, which we have been adding to for the past year, and which we will soon launch as the consummation and culmination of all we have been doing.
The Twin Towers Alliance campaign to rebuild the Towers is definitely coming to an end. And the mission of the Twin Towers Alliance Foundation is beginning. Because whether the Towers are rebuilt or if they are not, the breakdown in the Social Contract that allowed things to go so wrong has to be diligently examined, understood, and repaired. The very fact that in this tenth anniversary year the documentaries have started and yet there is still no honest inquiry into what happened to rob people of the World Trade Center they wanted, needed, and deserved is a clear warning that something is very wrong.
Meanwhile, either our final maneuvers are going to register and grab the nation’s attention, or not. But anyone who thinks that such a clear-cut case of right overcoming might doesn’t have a chance is misguided. It was reported this week that “New York State and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are both grappling with severe financial problems, but selling off One World Trade Center to bail them out would be a mistake, according to Port Authority executive director Christopher Ward.”
That may be true, but we finally have two dynamic and savvy Governors who could suddenly wake up to the fact that selling the entire property to the people would do wonders for the two states and be a tremdous net-gain for the country as a whole. If they recognize that soon enough, we could cap the Freedom Tower while it would still blend into the downtown skyline, before it really starts to resemble a tombstone. (Click on the link and give it time to download.)
A day after a Reuters puff piece announced that “Selling One World Trade Center not an option,” the Port Authority had its credit outlook cut to negative from stable by Moody’s Investors Service. “The biggest mistake we would make now would be to sell short now — to think that we could make up either the state’s financial difficulties or the Port Authority’s,” according to Christopher Ward. “This has to be an asset that returns value to the Port Authority for years to come,” he added. But try as they may to inflate their prospects, the fundamentals are against them. Whatever their two or possibly three towers could return pales beside the return-on-investment that would be realized by building new Twin Towers. That could be easily established.
How ironic that Ward warns against selling the Freedom Tower short, while his version of the World Trade Center is selling our whole country short. But he is out of step with the bipartisan mood that was captured at the end of last night’s State-of-the-Union address. As the President reminded us: “We Do Big Things” — and we’ll never get a better chance to prove it.
1/17/11 — “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda…” Martin Luther King believed that “the time is always right to do what is right.” In other words: It’s Never Too Late To Do The Right Thing…” Dr. King’s life was a prime example of what we can achieve when we know that what we are striving for is right. Big dreams cannot be judged by how “realistic” they may seem, but how much in alignment they are with our values.
No one knows for sure what the future holds, but what we do know is that the rightness of rebuilding the Towers has been evident to most people — at home and abroad — from the beginning. So we are on solid ground, while those who are pushing the current plan are not.
We have just started sending out Freedom of Information requests, but a pattern of obstruction and defiance is already obvious. If they were proud of their actions, officials would lose no time disclosing what we have asked for — but more on that soon.
Regardless of what happens in the future, the opportunity officials squandered to bring healing and inspiration to a wounded world is hard to fathom. The great leaders our country has produced have had their flaws, but what they all had in common with MLK was courage.
1/1/11 — “HAPPY NEW YEAR…” We wish all friends of the Twin Towers a very happy 2011. People may think that we are delusional to believe that this year will hold dramatic changes for the WTC, but believe it we do. Not because of vague hunches or wishful thinking, but because we have faith that our system of government will reward dedicated and well-informed efforts and that officials will come to see the magnitude of the mistake they are making.
Americans are used to vain politicians wasting massive amounts of money. But when did “because they got away with it” become an acceptable reason for doing anything, let alone for building the most significant construction project in American history? Fortunately, one thing officials can be trusted to do is look out for their own best interests and we believe that a convergence of interests is coming.
If those who are currently celebrating the halfway mark of the Freedom Tower only knew the whole story, they would be appalled, they would be ashamed, and they would be angry. When all the facts are considered, what is happening at the Trade Center makes no objective sense – until corruption is factored in.
The Freedom Tower is a giant middle-finger salute to the American people, and the higher it goes, the more offensive and obnoxious it becomes, because it is being built on a lie. What is most alarming is that those natural enemies – politicians and the press – have joined forces to present a blatantly false picture at Ground Zero. If they can do that there, what would stop them from doing it wherever they please?
So what happens when the facts about the ill-conceived project are known — we’ll just keep building it anyway? Not likely. If the media will honestly look at the project and report what they find, then at the very least the people will demand to know what it would cost to build new Twin Towers instead — and when they find out, the current project will be history.
The actual facts are not difficult to ascertain. All that is required is to put them in context and broadcast them. They are there for all to see, but have been buried in layers of opinions and assumptions. The questions that officials and the media have been ducking for years will not go away. We have been sending out a number of Freedom of Information requests, not only because we are convinced that reason can still prevail at Ground Zero – but also because we are dedicated, no matter what, to compiling an historical record that will indict everyone who participated in, or could have prevented, such a thoroughly despicable scam.
Our efforts got an honorable mention in the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, just before Thanksgiving, when we were asked to comment on the way the Port Authority operates — and we hope that recognition will be the beginning of a trend.
As we told the PA Commissioners in November: “Anyone who thinks we are running out of steam, should think again, because just the opposite is true. What is going on at Ground Zero is an insult to everything this country stands for. Now Mr. Silverstein wants stimulus money, for towers that will never stimulate the spirit of our nation; they will depress it. What is going forward at Ground Zero is the rancid proof of a rancid autocracy that thinks that honoring power is what matters most. But this country was founded on the principle that honoring people is what matters most.”
A handful of officials are depriving our own citizens, and friends around the world, of a skyline that thrilled a generation of people everywhere. How could they rob the public of that legendary outdoor observation deck overlooking the most breathtaking city in the world and still pretend to care about what we want — or think we won’t notice that we’re being robbed?
But what makes the current prospect especially sad is that instead of showing that we have it in us to triumph greatly over whatever would defeat us — just when the world needs that reassurance most — our representatives have chosen to take the low road and be second-rate in our name.
Commentators have been suggesting that at the root of America’s current malaise is a dread that for the first time in our history the best is not yet to come. Most of us can easily imagine what new, state-of-the-art Twin Towers would look like and nothing could illustrate the depressing new-normal better than the two, or possibly three, towers they may eventually succeed in building at Ground Zero instead.
So who is delusional: The person who refuses to concede that officials have succeeded in cheating the people of the United States out of the Twin Towers they clearly want, need, and deserve? Or the person who believes that they will actually get away with it? One thing is sure, if we give up they will get away with it — to their enduring shame — and ours.
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