Reality Check Arrives at Ground Zero

July 3, 2008

In case you thought the rebuilding at the World Trade Center site was going along as planned, a long overdue and

candid letter

released this week from the Port Authority of NY & NJ is your

dose of reality


Since the attacks of 9/11, public officials (mostly former during Governor Pataki's administration), created a

mirage of productive activity

at the 16 acres of Ground Zero. What the project needed from the get-go was fewer cooks and

one stalwart chef

in the kitchen.  Some of us had hoped Governor Spitzer would step up to the plate and ask tough questions like why there's such a

massive amount of subsidized office space

planned, but he too caved and since his stay in the state capital was

cut short,

we'll never know what long term impact his role might have had.

Now, Gov. Paterson has asked THE tough question about the redevelopment of the 16 acres at Ground Zero by requesting (gasp!) an assessment. Paterson's willingness to confront the challenges of the rebuilding, (

and one of the worst kept secrets

in town) are a breath of fresh air and include: the unmanageable size of the project, the "unique interdependencies" (I guess that's the nice way to say political interests), increased costs and the "doh!" moment was "lack of an effective decision making process."

Of course the decision making process was ineffective – in large part because it was unaccountable. GJNY and



early on and regularly that unless transparency and accountability were improved in Lower Manhattan, the development could have a

negative impact

– mostly on low and moderate income residents and workers.  We weren't wrong (unfortunately) as billions of dollars in Federal resources were allocated in Lower Manhattan to

financial firms


luxury housing developers

helping to make it one of the city's



The head of the Port Authority,

Chris Ward

, deserves credit for giving the Governor an honest critique of what has become an embarrassment.