Bloomberg can kiss my ass:
Abandoning his usually bland statements of support, the mayor said for the first time that New York would be better off if Silverstein were booted from the site.
“It would be in the city’s interest to get Silverstein out, [but] nobody can figure out how to do it yet,” Bloomberg told the Daily News Editorial Board Friday.
“And can you imagine the stink if you gave him half a billion dollars or a billion dollars in profit to get him out?” he added.
In an unusually candid sitdown, Bloomberg also expressed concern over the priorities of the Port Authority, which owns the site, and the growing “power” of the families that lost loved ones there on 9/11.
Referring to the families’ recent success in getting Gov. Pataki to kill a controversial International Freedom Center at the site, Bloomberg said the decision had complicated the task of raising funds for a memorial.
“I understand their emotions,” Bloomberg said of the families. “But that scared away some of the donors … and certainly changed what you can do on the site.”
“What do you do if a Saudi bank wants to rent space in the Freedom Tower?” Bloomberg added. “What merchant is going to rent a store and then get picketed? So there are some real practical aspects.”
The mayor’s comments come as he has spoken recently about trying to boost the city’s control over Ground Zero, where Silverstein holds a 99-year lease.
Indeed, a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that New York City voters overwhelmingly believe that Bloomberg, not Pataki, should be empowered to make decisions on Ground Zero.
And many insiders at the PA and the governor’s office conceded that the mayor also was stating publicly what many Ground Zero players have whispered privately for months – that Silverstein is an inflexible steward who has largely failed to move Ground Zero forward.
A Silverstein representative, Bud Perrone, declined to respond to the mayor’s comments.
But in a speech he made Friday, the 74-year-old Silverstein made clear he intends to stay at Ground Zero, where he pays $120 million a year in rent and is nearing completion of 7 World Trade Center, the first of several planned towers.
“The realities are that I’ve dedicated the balance of my working life to get this done,” Silverstein said. “And get it done we will.”
Silverstein also holds plenty of cards. Not only does he hold a lease on the property, he also is the likely recipient of $4.6 billion in Ground Zero insurance payments – money that is critical to rebuilding the area.
Bloomberg said he thought a better idea for Ground Zero would be schools and residential buildings, which are in hot demand in lower Manhattan, rather than the commercial towers planned by Silverstein and the PA.
“They are trying to force a kind of construction which maybe the marketplace doesn’t want,” Bloomberg said.
PA officials responded by noting that they are barred by their own charter from constructing residential buildings.
They also expressed a certain amount of shock that, after more than three years of collegial relations, Bloomberg was sounding a new chord.
“The mayor and his team have been at the table with us through the entire process,” said PA spokesman Steve Coleman.
Some family members also were taken aback by the mayor’s suggestion that they wielded too much influence at Ground Zero, adding that most of their concerns now are limited to fairly minor details near the planned memorial.
“There are certain issues that we are questioning,” said Charles Wolf, who lost his wife, Katherine, on 9/11. “But we still have faith that LMDC will sit down and listen to us.”
For him to even suggest that the families have too much power in decided what gets built on ground zero is complete idiocy. These people had their family members murdered by terrorists on this ground and want something that will honor THEM!
Glad to hear Silverstein isn’t backing down…
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