Getting The Shaft

The subtitle of the Daily News editorial on the dispute between the Port Authority and the 9/11 Museum is a good example of journalistic malpractice: “Jersey side is blocking Ground Zero progress over money claim.” If that were true, why has Governor Cuomo taken such a firm stand — something they misrepresent? The piece dovetails nicely with the subtitle of the Burlingame opinion in the Wall Street Journal that charges: “The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey demands more money from a charitable foundation before it will finish construction.” Between them, they will succeed in misleading millions of readers. Ms. Burlingame can be forgiven for having an agenda, but the editors of one of New York’s leading papers should not be slanting the news.

The Museum Atrium and Tridents


The New York Daily News | “Port Authority has to stop extorting money from World Trade Center museum

The Wall Street Journal | “The 9/11 Memorial Museum Held Hostage

The New York Times | “Construction Frozen in a Fight Over Financing

The New York Times | “Challenges Remain for the September 11 Memorial Museum

all the funding they seek is public. The public funds the Port Authority and 40% — almost half — of the Memorial has already been funded by the public through the Federal government. The difference is that charity is voluntary and the money the Memorial seeks to extort from the PA is not.

The reason to call it extortion is the political guilt-trip that charges the Port Authority is not doing enough. The preliminary phase of the ongoing independent audit of the Port Authority that was released earlier this year reported that “the evolution of design and the challenges the Port Authority faced to deliver the Memorial by September 11, 2011” cost the agency (the public) $3 billion.

Back when the Memorial was slated to cost an outlandish $1 billion, Mayor Bloomberg took control and reduced the cost — which is now not only reapproaching the billion-dollar mark, but the annual cost to run the complex will be at least $60 million. Last September a bill was introduced into the House and Senate that would contribute $20 million annually, if there are private contributions to match it — as long as the Port Authority, with the approval of the Governors, deeds the 7.5 acres to the National Parks Service. What is the value of half a World Trade Center?

The notion that “showing the world that America isn’t beaten” and teaching future generations how the 9/11 attacks “changed the world” required $3 billion dollars to build the memorial complex and another $3 billion in Port Authority (public) money to deliver tihe waterfalls and landscaping by 9/11 — is myopic. That obligation could have been realized as well or better for a lot less money and the two Governors are exerting leadership by not asking the public to absorb what could actually be $300 million dollars or more — as if the public is a captive lender to the Memorial Board.

How can the Memorial Board be trusted when they have a long history of pursuing an agenda that is at odds with what the public wants — while insisting on what they seem to think is their right to an inexhaustible claim to the public purse. The Memorial Board fought 9/11 family members to bring the victims’ names to ground level; they have seized the unidentified remains for inclusion in a museum, and they are now failing to recognize how vitally important it is to return “The Sphere” to the heart of the memorial plaza. Why is the public subject to their wishes, when they are so unmoved by ours? Who is really being held hostage?

The fallacy of thinking that a museum at the site where the democratic process and the public’s prerogative were trashed will “show the world that America isn’t beaten” and teach how the 9/11 attacks “changed the world” is sadly deluded.

The New York Times | “At Museum on 9/11, Talking Through an Identity Crisis

This article is not only a very informative account of what is being planned for the musueum, but also another example of journalism as apologist — full of conflicting opinions, but missing vital facts. There is no point in quoting 9/11 family members giving their differing opinions on what amounts to the commandeering of the unidentified remains, without mentioning that museum officials were asked to poll the entire role of family members as to what they wished to have done with the remains.

The inconvenient truth is that Memorial officials refused to establish and abide by what the majority of family members think is proper. That is news that people deserve to know — and that officials should be required to address. Until that happens, they are pitching propaganda, diverting attention from the crucial facts and manipulating information to suit their agenda.

Applying the dictum that all are equal, but some are more equal than others at Ground Zero is shameful — because the 9/11 attacks did not play favorites.

The Real Deal | “Silverstein plans huge Far West Side residential-retail tower

Has anyone yet come up with an explanation for why the public is subsidizing Silverstein’s presence at Ground Zero?

The New York Post | “Obama to visit One World Trade Center construction

The New York Daily News | “Obama to visit WTC to take a look at rebuilding progress

He may look, but will he see?

2012-05-28T14:36:58+00:00 May 28th, 2012|Vol. One, No. 13 —|

Iconic Is As Iconic Does

As any first-grader knows, an icon is a symbol that stands for something — whether on a computer desktop or in a World Trade Center. There are a number of different interpretations of what the Freedom Tower stands for, but all agree on what the massive sculpture that survived 9/11 stands for: The triumph over hell-on-earth. That the “Sphere in the Fountain” was not flattened is even more miraculous than the survival of the nearby St. Paul’s. The battered relic is inspiring, ennobling, astonishing, and true.

Aerial of 9/11 Memorial and Museum Plaza

Photo: The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

amNewYork| “Bloomberg: WTC sphere should stay in Battery Park City

The Observer | “Where’s Fritz Koenig’s Ground Zero Sphere Going? The Port Authority’s Still Working on That

The Staten Island Advance| Editorial: “The Sphere belongs here | “Mayor Bloomberg Says 9/11 Sphere Should Remain in Battery Park

Now that the Sphere, and presumably the eternal flame that was lit on September 11, 2002, are being evicted from Battery Park, why haven’t the the big three papers and the television stations put a national spotlight on this story? Why isn’t it a cause celebre? The Port Authority head promised on May 11th an announcement the following week on where the Sphere was going — but the deadline he set came and went.

Why hasn’t “60 Minutes” already pounced on such a disturbing screw-up? If something that actually makes sense can be said for the status quo, let the people hear it. What the people who will be coming from all over the country would want to see at the memorial they are funding should matter. Especially since the memorial was renamed the “Nation 9/11 Memorial and Museum” and a bill was introduced in Congress last September that would take over the 8 acres and pay $20 million a year towards its $60 million operating costs — which would mean that the museum would still need to charge admission.

The only reason that the complex cost a billion dollars to build and will cost $60 million and counting to operate is because it was snatched out the hands of the people by a “memorial jury” with no common sense. And now, the only reason officials can come up with for excluding the Sphere from the Memorial plaza is that it is not part of the design. So what? Putting the names around the top of the waterfalls wasn’t part of the “design” either — 9/11 family members had to sleep out on the sidewalk for three weeks in the winter of 2006, to get the designer to bring the names to ground level.

Who are these people who think they can call the shots and present their preposterous bill, while the public genuflects to their good taste? It would cost no more, probably less, to move the Sphere, and its eternal flame, to the spot where it belongs, close to where it originally stood, than to move it anywhere else. And as the picture above makes clear, there certainly is enough room for it. But by far, most important of all, it would be a source of inspiration and gratitude for a battered, but resolute nation.

The New York Post | “1 World Trade Center offers warm welcome

The New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo — the WTC project’s cheerleader-in-chief — described the Freedom Tower’s new base as “a shimmering, richly textured facade on four sides of glass, stainless steel and aluminum.” What a perfect description of the whole project — a richly textured facade that hides the lightless, lifeless, concrete bunker just below the surface. Nice try, but no cigar.

2012-05-21T14:31:56+00:00 May 21st, 2012|Vol. One, No. 12 —|

No Confidence

On May 11th, the Port Authority’s executive director, Pat Foye, assured the public that he had been “committed to finding both a temporary and permanent home in the public domain for this cherished and historic monument” since taking over at the PA last fall. He promised that a new temporary home for the Koenig Sphere, “the iconic bronze sculpture that miraculously survived the 9/11 attacks,” would be announced this week.

Plaque at Koenig Sphere Memorial in Battery Park

Photo: Urbanite | Linked Photo: The Port Authority of NY & NJ

“We have worked tirelessly to find a new, accessible public space for this important symbol of hope amid devastation. We believe this sculpture should continue to reside in a location where New Yorkers and people from around the region, nation and the world can view this important reminder of survival and resilience. Since my arrival at the Port Authority, I have been committed to finding both a temporary and permanent home in the public domain for this cherished and historic monument.”

Those assurances do not exactly inspire confidence in Mr. Foye as a problem-solver at the head of an agency that has very big problems. If finding a temporary home for “a cherished and historic monument” is so hard, what hope is there of tackling the agency’s really dire problems? | “World Trade Sphere Must be Moved to 9/11 Memorial, Downtown Residents Say

The Observer| “If Anyone Can Save 1 WTC’s Symbolic Spire, It Is the Dursts — They Snuck Onto the Skyline Before

Capital New York | “The ‘irrelevant’ discussion that’s threatening 1 World Trade Center’s status…

2012-05-14T14:22:53+00:00 May 14th, 2012|Vol. One, No. 11 —|

False Promises and Premises

The latest WTC development in a bizarre string of inexplicably clumsy moves is the revelation that the maintenance of the 408-foot spire was never feasible — because there was no way to safely maintain it. That means that the Freedom Tower’s bogus claim to be the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere was even more bogus than it seemed. Another false promise down the Big Drain.

Shake Shack Burger

Meanwhile, the new World Trade Center may boast the world’s highest “Shake Shack.” So, we are clearly bound for glory. Or might be, if it weren’t for pesky little reality checks, like the one now being posed by the controversy over the relocation of the iconic Koenig Sphere, which is being denied a home where it belongs — or anywhere else, it seems.

Wherever it goes, it would be good to know that the Eternal Flame that was lit at the Sphere’s 2002 dedication in Battery Park will be transferred with it — and is in no danger of being un-eternalized.

New York Times | “World Trade Center’s Symbolic 1,776-Foot Height Is at Stake in a Redesign

The Wall Street Journal | “Pointed Spat Over World Trade Spire

The Bergen Record | “The Sphere belongs at Ground Zero–AP | “New Place Picked for WTC Sphere That Endured 9/11

The New York Daily News | “Sen. Schumer: Move World Trade Center sphere to somewhere prominent! | “Danny Meyer Wants to Run 1 WTC Observation Deck, Report Says

Business Insider | “The New World Trade Center Could Be Getting The World’s Highest Shake Shack

The Star-Ledger | “At World Trade Center, the twin towers’ disgraceful replacement

2012-05-07T13:49:43+00:00 May 7th, 2012|Vol. One, No. 10 —|