June 23rd - June 29th, 2006
Freedom Tower Cornerstone Temporarily Removed From Ground Zero
Saturday, June 24th: The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower was loaded onto a truck and carted off the ground zero site, possibly for the next two years, the New York Times reported. With the Freedom Tower's redesign, the stone's original placement now falls outside the tower's footprint, the paper continued. For the time being, the cornerstone will live in a plexiglass case, viewable by appointment, at Innovative Stone in Hauppauge, Long Island, the Times continued. Innovative Stone is the company that cut the stone and chiseled its inscription, "tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom," the paper added. Ironically, according to the Times, work could not start on the Freedom Tower until the cornerstone was removed.
Albany Puts Brakes on WTC Museum Admission Fee
Sunday, June 25th: The New York State Senate in Albany passed a bill that would cut any state funds directed toward the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation if the museum charges an admission fee, the Associated Press reported. The Assembly has yet to vote on the issue; however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on his weekly radio program that without an entrance fee, he fears that the memorial will not be built and he hopes the governor will veto the bill, the AP continued.
According to the AP, of the estimated $500 million required to build the memorial, half of the funding will need to come from public funds, and the city does not want to be placed in a position where it will have to cover the maintenance costs. The upkeep of the memorial is expected to run close to $50 million a year, and Bloomberg believes that those costs should be covered by a museum entrance fee, the AP continued.
Bloomberg is not alone in his opposition to the bill. New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno also strongly oppose it, the AP reported. And a letter from John Whitehead, the foundation's chairman; Thomas Johnson, chairman of the executive committee; and Joseph Daniels, acting president of the foundation, stated, "This bill threatens to undermine the long-term care and operations of the memorial and museum at Ground Zero." The three relayed their desire to keep the memorial free but think it shortsighted to pass a law barring the option to charge admission, the AP added.
Police Union Is Considering Establishing Its Own Heath Registry
Sunday, June 25th: The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), the largest police union in the nation, is considering establishing its own health registry to track the health of officers who participated in the 9/11 cleanup effort, Newsday reported. Health and government officials have already established screening programs and registries, but leaders of the PBA say they can't afford to wait years for the results of these efforts, the paper continued.
"We understand that science takes time, but these officers don't have time," PBA spokesman Al O'Leary told Newsday. "Some have already died, and those who are alive today need to know what kinds of symptoms they should be watching for."
The police registry likely would not include its own screenings, but would give members an opportunity to report updates on their own health, O'Leary told the paper.
BearingPoint to Bring 600+ Jobs to Lower Manhattan
Wednesday, June 28th: BearingPoint, Inc., one of the world's largest management and technology consulting firms, signed a lease for 52,000 square feet of office space in Three World Financial Center, the mayor and governor announced on June 27th. The company plans to create a new national hub office downtown with workspace for 633 employees. In return, BearingPoint will receive a $2.4 million Job Creation and Retention Grant. For more on this story, click here.
Fulton Transit Center to Maintain Original Plan
Tuesday, June 27th: Even though the new estimated cost for the Fulton Street Transit Center is more than $844 million, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said in a statement that they have no plans to scale back the project, the New York Times reported. The project is running $45 million over the planned $799 million budget. But while the new structure necessitates the relocation of commercial tenants on the east side of Broadway between Fulton and John Streets, it promises to link more than a dozen subway lines in Lower Manhattan, the paper added. Rather than scale the project back, the MTA has decided to seek out more federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration, Newsday reported.
According to Newsday, the MTA filed a report stating, "Further changes to the design are not recommended because they would compromise the project's purpose, objectives, and benefits." The report also adds that due to environmental concerns and cost overruns, the transit center will not open until June 2009, the paper added.
Silverstein, PA Sue WTC Insurers, Workers Protest Insurers
Tuesday, June 27th: Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey served seven insurance companies with a mega lawsuit to force them to pay $1.47 billion to rebuild the World Trade Center site, the New York Post reported. According to the Post, Silverstein and the Port Authority are suing because the insurers refuse to pay the amounts guaranteed by their policies, with some claiming that because of the new rebuilding agreement that they no longer owe anything. In total, 23 insurance carriers owe money, seven of which are refusing to pay their claims, the paper continued.
The New York Times reported that many of Silverstein's critics have joined him in this battle, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senator Charles Schumer. In addition to the political statements against the insurance companies, an angry mob of construction workers protested the insurers' refusal to pony up the funds, accusing them of civic terrorism, Newsday reported. Hundreds of construction workers stood in Liberty Plaza making accusations and comparing the insurers to Osama bin Laden, the paper added.