Last night I attended a meeting at Community Board 1. (For anyone not from NYC, the community boards are supposed to serve as a liaison between smaller communities and the city council, since in such a big city it's harder for citizens to gain access to city government.) It was attended by Chris Ward of the Port Authority, who last week issued his findings in an audit ordered by Gov. Patterson of the WTC rebuilding process. If you've known me for any length of time, you know that this is kind of a big deal for me. Anyway, the report revealed nothing I didn't already know: the project is grossly over budget and considerably behind schedule. Shocker. Of course, if TPTB had actually listened to the public rather than simply used us for their own gain, both the memorial and two beautiful new Twin Towers could have been nearing completion by now. But that would have required a modicum of integrity, something sorely lacking in New York politics.
But anyway, the meeting. Ostensibly it was for Chris Ward and Janno Lieber (Larry Silverstein's spokesperson, since the Great Landlord himself has never seen fit to stoop to attending something so base as a public hearing, where us regular folk actually have a chance to speak) to answer community questions about the process. In reality, of course, it was a chance for them to give off the appearance of concern without actually answering any of the more hard-hitting questions. For example, retired firefighter Jim Riches and fire safety expert Glenn Corbett both asked questions about the Port Authority's refusal to meet NYC fire codes. (Since they are a bi-state agency, they are exempt from such codes under their current charter.) On both occasions, Ward claimed the PA has a deep commitment to safety while completely sidestepping the specific question asked. He emphasized that simply abiding by the codes is not the be-all and end-all of building safety--which is true, but completely misses the point, since if they are committed to safety there's no reason for them not to at least meet city codes, if not surpass them. The whole meeting was nothing but theater, but as a member of the community and longtime rebuilding activist I wanted to be there and see how things would go.
Talk of scrapping the Freedom Tower plan and rebuilding the towers has started to creep back into the papers, and I'm hoping to add to that myself. I'll post links here if I manage to get anything published. Wish me luck!