We respect the men and women who poured their hearts into building One World Trade Center. But we do not respect the men and women who lied it into existence – George Pataki and Michael Bloomberg above all. There were many pressing reasons – economic, symbolic, geopolitical, among others – to rebuild the Twin Towers. But the one that trumped all the rest was public opinion.
Why does that matter now? When people learn how badly they’ve been misled at the World Trade Center, how it happened and what we can do about it, we will hold the keys to reforming every aspect of our increasingly unaccountable government. And we have a bipartisan duty to do so. If we can’t draw the line here, when will we ever take control? That is why our focus at the Twin Towers Alliance shifted to exposing how the country was swindled at Ground Zero and to holding those who did the swindling accountable.
It’s a slow process, but our lawsuit – the aim of which was to uncover the details of Larry Silverstein’s sweetheart deals with the Port Authority that have cost the public so dearly – was decided in the public’s favor. Significantly, it is the first time the Port Authority’s 9/11 secrecy has been challenged in court and their claims that the information was confidential and therefore exempt from public disclosure were found to be utterly without merit. But they failed to honestly respond and we will soon be challenging their contempt of the court order.
In addition, the years of effort to return the massive, heroic “Sphere” near to the spot where it stood for close to 30 years, culminated in July with a Port Authority decision to place it in Liberty Park, where it will at least be visible from the Memorial Plaza. In other words, it survived the crashing towers but could not withstand the crushing bureaucracy that hijacked Ground Zero and banished it from its rightful home. There it will stand as a witness to the behind-the-scenes power of Michael Bloomberg.
Finally, we will continue to express disgust that the Bloomberg machine locked the unidentified remains of the 9/11 victims in the basement of the 9/11 Museum. While he was still mayor, the Bloomberg administration fought to preserve a lock on the precious relics – but without the explicit permission of every next-of-kin, determined democratically, the remains are there by confiscation. It is completely immoral. Instead of reposing in a tomb on the Memorial grounds, where people can freely pay their respects – as they would be anywhere else in our country or world – mourners must pay $24 to reach the remains. How revolting!
We owe it to ourselves, those we lost, and all those who are yet to come to make the World Trade Center as true to our values as it can be. Only then will it be a fitting memorial to the loved ones and the world that died on 9/11. Instead of settling for just making “the best of it,” we have to make it the best tribute to our nation it can be. Good enough is not good enough here.
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