The Real Downgrade

The George Washington Bridge

Photo: The Twin Towers Alliance

Businessweek

Port Authority Rating Lowered One Level by Moody’s on Debt Load

Realty Today

WTC Construction Results in Port Authority Downgrade

Reuters

Fitch rates Port Authority of N.Y., N.J. bonds ‘-AA’

The rationale for the confiscatory toll hikes enacted last summer by the Port Authority was to avoid a credit downgrade, which would cost the agency millions on its existing and future debt. But Moody’s downgraded the PA’s bond rating anyway and even Fitch, which did not downgrade listed under the causes that could trigger a rating action: “Actions by either the State of New York or New Jersey to limit the authority’s ability to raise tolls to cover growing debt service obligations.” They didn’t mention the Federal Government in that context even though there is currently legislation and the pending AAA lawsuit that could do exactly that.

But the most damaging result of the Moody’s downgrade, which is the result of years of political tampering, is the downgrade of our skyline and our hopes of a fitting recovery. The massive mismanagement of this public agency will be corrected one way or another, but the World Trade Center the people of the United States had every reason to expect — and which we paid through the nose for, is a far sadder and more lasting downgrade. The Commissioners who have come and gone since the bogus privatization of the PA in 2001 are not stupid or incompetent. The state of the WTC is the result of political malpractice amounting to fraud.

The Record

Senators call Port Authority officials ‘obstructionists’ in letter

New York Times

Artist’s Foundation Seeks Return of ‘Sphere’ to World Trade Center Site

New York Times

3 Bidders Left to Run World Trade Center Observatory

The Gothamist

Shake Shack In The Sky? 1 WTC Observation Deck Finalists Announced

2012-09-25T17:56:22+00:00 September 25th, 2012|Vol. One, No. 30 —|

For Auld Lang Syne / Page Two

Our year-end appeal is to those who package the news we all depend upon: Examine the quality of what you are delivering to the people. Would a milkman deposit bottles of sour milk on America’s stoops? Or would a baker leave moldy bread? As we have pointed out at the Twin Towers Alliance, “The Elements of Journalism,” which was first published in 2001, is recognized as the industry bible. It asks, “What is journalism for?” and presents working principles for a responsible press.

But all those journalistic principles were ignored by the press when it came to covering the years of political machinations at Ground Zero. The WTC we see today — and don’t see — is the by-product of a media that withheld vital information from the public and continues to restrict what the public may know, even though the new WTC is on public land and is being developed with massive public funding. It’s hard to believe.

The first news link below is a perfect example of that dysfunction. A coalition of 9/11 families have been made to jump through hoops in an effort to establish how each of the victims’ families feels about depositing the unidentified remains in the 9/11 Museum. The calamitous flooding at Ground Zero during Superstorm Sandy highlighted the Museum’s callousness and incompetence.

The Twin Towers Journal posted numerous links over the summer to articles expressing great frustration because the dispute between the Port Authority and the Memorial Foundation would keep the Museum from opening “on time.” In retrospect, it is terrible to think what would have been washed away if it had! Putting the remains (or anything else) at bedrock in a flood zone was always reckless, but to continue on that course now amounts to depraved indifference. What is driving such intransigence?

If the protection that officials think they can provide for the priceless artifacts is nevertheless breached one day, knowing ahead of time what is at stake, the Foundation officials would be criminally negligent. The Memorial Foundation would be liable for failing to prevent the preventable. Officials claim that the damage was the result of not having a roof on other parts of the construction site — but buildings all over the flood zone that were closed to the elements also flooded. A foundation that receives more than half its proceeds from the public does not have the right to court disaster.

The matter should be front-page news, as should so many of the other decisions about the site, which were made without respect for public input or common sense. What could be a better definition of “doomed” than feeling powerless to prevent that which could easily be prevented? It is high time for those members of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, who first formulated the “Elements of Journalism,” to take their profession to task.

Editorialists are quick to call for regulating every aspect of our lives, but who is upholding the media’s standards? One could not find a better casebook study of corruption and malpractice than by looking into how the World Trade Center debate was stifled and the facts were selectively presented. The media failed the American people at Ground Zero.

Even with the same self-serving politicians, the spotlight of a responsible media would have produced a restored skyline and a respectful memorial years ago — long before the 2008 financial collapse. And there would have been no toll-gouging at the bridges and tunnels, because the Port Authority would not be on the hook at Ground Zero for at least $7.5 billion of public money that never had to be spent. Our watchdog press was oblivious to the damage that was being done by so many in the profession, who couldn’t be bothered to be bothered. We hope that those who really are concerned journalists will look at all the evidence and resolve to make amends.

2012-09-25T14:57:27+00:00 September 25th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Business As Usual

Twin Towers at Sunset

Photo: The Twin Towers Alliance

Fortune

Why lawyers are still fighting over 9/11

Washington Post

Family members of Sept. 11 victims renew criticism of redevelopment of WTC site

Downtown Express

Editorial: “9/11 museum deal only halfway there

MyCentralJersey.com (Gannett)

Construction to resume on stalled 9/11 museum

Transportation Nation

“”Port Authority Board Gets an Earful from Public>

Reuters

NY-NJ Port Authority needs toll hikes – consultants

GlobeSt.com

Port Faces Hard Choices on Capital Projects

Bond Buyer

N.Y.-N.J. Port Authority Readies $2B of Taxable Debt for WTC

2012-09-17T18:04:51+00:00 September 17th, 2012|Vol. One, No. 29 —|

Fooling Ourselves At Ground Zero

Memorial Beams

Photo: The Twin Towers Alliance

In New York, we are warned against buying counterfeit goods from street vendors because their proceeds help finance the terrorist underground. Meanwhile, we are being sold a counterfeit World Trade Center and are not supposed to notice it’s not even a good designer knock-off.

The swindle at Ground Zero gives a far bigger boost to terrorist networks than the street scammers ever could. Worse, it has cheated the public out of not only billions of dollars but true national healing.

Valiant and dedicated workers have put their hearts into raising one generic tower to exactly the height of the two world icons that were destroyed. But ten years ago they offered to work for nothing if only they could rebuild the two lost towers. No one has ever explained why that longing was denied.

We can’t afford to go on fooling ourselves that we have — in the words of the President — come back stronger. America’s Skyline is clearly diminished, as are we, and it is time to get serious about finding out why.

Since 9/11/2001, dozens of twin towers have risen around the world, while our leaders pretend that building only half of what was stolen from us at Ground Zero is something to cheer about.

For the 1996 Olympics, an AT&T ad showed an athlete pole-vaulting over the Twin Towers. Far more than symbols of power and might, those towers were the ultimate symbol of excellence. They were conceived in the same exuberant spirit that took us to the moon. And new, state-of-the-art Twin Towers would have taken us right over it.

Huffington Post

World Trade Center Sphere: Sculpture That Survived 9/11 Faces Uncertain Future

CBS Local

Mayor Bloomberg Calls WTC Construction Most Complex Project ‘In History Of The World’

Commercial Observer

Silverstein Properties’ Janno Lieber and Serge Demerjian Talk WTC

2012-09-08T14:31:47+00:00 September 8th, 2012|Vol. One, No. 28 —|

Dereliction of Duty

Cleaning the Koenig Sphere Memorial in Battery Park

Photo: David W. Dunlap | New York Times

The New York Times

…Guerrilla Cleaners Scrub the ‘Sphere’ Memorial

MSNBC (AP)

9/11 memorial to cost $60 million a year to operate

Asbury Park Press (Gannett)

Turf war lends uncertainty to opening of 9/11 Museum

Business Week

American, United Face Trial Over 9-11 Towers Destruction

Reuters

NYC WTC developer brushes off concerns about competition

Reuters

Companies use World Trade Center as rental bargaining chip

WNYC News Blog

Politicians Left Off 9/11 Guest List for First Time

2012-09-03T16:20:49+00:00 September 3rd, 2012|Vol. One, No. 27 —|