December 23rd - December 29th, 2005
Congress Approves $125 Million in Aid for Ground Zero Workers
Friday, December 23: Congress voted to approve $125 million in aid to rescuers and construction workers who are still suffering after-effects from the events of 9/11, the New York Post reported. Of the money, $50 million will go toward a state workers-compensation program, and the remainder will go to organizations proving aid to rescue personnel and uninsured construction workers, the paper continued.
Originally part of a $20 billion aid package awarded to New York by Congress after 9/11, the $125 million in question was reclaimed and re-appropriated elsewhere when sufficient claims for the funds were not received. State leaders, including Democratic Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, have called for the money to be returned to New York to provide greater health care for 9/11 workers, the Post reported. The president must still approve the re-appropriation.
Mayoral Inauguration Plans Announced
Celebrities Barbara Walters, John Lithgow, and Liza Minnelli will contribute to inaugural festivities being planned for January 1, 2006, to commemorate Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election the New York Daily News reported.
Walters will deliver welcoming remarks at the ceremony, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on New Year's Day. Lithgow will introduce the mayor following a performance of the national anthem by the Abyssinian Baptist Church Sanctuary choir. Minnelli will sing "New York, New York." A reception following the ceremony will be held at the former Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank building on Chambers Street.
The ceremony will be solely funded by the mayor, as was the case in 2002, Bloomberg's spokesman, Edward Skyler, told the News.
New Construction Czar Named for WTC Memorial
Tuesday, December 27: William H. Goldstein, former head of the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA), has been appointed to oversee construction of the World Trade Center Memorial, Memorial Museum, and related facilities, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation announced. For more information, click here.
Former Windows on the World Workers to Open New Downtown Restaurant
Thursday, December 29: Next week, 51 former waiters, busboys, bartenders, and dishwashers from the former World Trade Center restaurant Windows on the World will open one of the city's first worker-owned restaurants, the New York Times reported.
The new restaurant, Colors, will memorialize the 73 Windows workers who died in the WTC attack while also revolutionizing the restaurant industry, the Times said. No one employed by the restaurant will earn less than $13.50 an hour, and all employees will share tips and be eligible to receive overtime, vacations, and, eventually, health insurance and pensions, the paper added.
"I am doing this for myself, for the workers who died, and for all restaurant workers in the city," Awal Ahmed, a waiter from Bangladesh who worked at Windows for 17 years, told the Times.
The new restaurant will be located just a few doors down from Lower Manhattan's Public Theater. It will feature an eclectic menu made up of family recipes from the employees, who hail from 22 different countries, the paper added.
Report Examines SBA Loans Dispersed in the Aftermath of 9/11
An investigative report has shown that a high percentage of government-backed loans in a program administered by the Small Business Association (SBA) to benefit businesses after 9/11 went to unqualified recipients, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The report substantiates key findings from a September AP story, in which it was reported that terrorism recovery loans were granted to businesses in various locations outside of New York that couldn't demonstrate adverse effects from 9/11, according to the AP.
SBA Administrator Hector Barreto told the AP that while not all loan recipients were unqualified, lender documentation could have been better.
Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine heads the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which intends to continue an investigation into the AP's findings. If abuses are discovered, she told AP, "Many questions must be answered by the parties involved, beginning with: How and why was this allowed to happen?"