December 3rd - December 9th, 2004
Court Okays 93 WTC Bombing Lawsuits against PA
Friday, December 3: According to a New York State panel of appellate judges, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will not be exempt from any pending lawsuits related to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the New York Times reported.
The five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court's First Judicial Department echoed the earlier findings of a lower court that denied the Port Authority immunity from lawsuits related to the '93 explosion, saying that the PA was aware of the structures' susceptibility to terrorist attacks, the paper explained.
The ruling allows plaintiffs in an estimated 150 legal cases that claim personal injury and interruption of business operations to sue the Port Authority for hundreds of millions of dollars in collective damages, the Times said.
On February 26, 1993, a van filled with explosives ignited in the former WTC's underground garage, killing six people and wounding more than 1,000, the paper added.
Jury Delivers Verdict in WTC Insurance Trial, Silverstein to Collect $2.2 Billion
Monday, December 6: After 11 days of deliberation, the federal jury in the trial between World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein and nine insurers decided that the attacks on the Twin Towers were two separate incidents according to the contract between the two sides, entitling Silverstein to collect two separate insurance payouts -- collectively totaling $2.2 billion -- from his insurers, the New York Times reported.
The decision marks a major victory for both Silverstein and the downtown rebuilding effort. While the insurers can still file an appeal, Silverstein reaffirmed his plan to use the money to build the new WTC site and issued a statement saying that the verdict will "ensure a timely and complete" WTC rebuilding effort, the Times said.
"It's a tremendous victory for Larry and for everyone who has an interest in Lower Manhattan," Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President Kevin Rampe told the Times. "The funds are going to ensure that Lower Manhattan recovers in the amount of time we've laid out."
Earlier this year, a separate jury ruled that the collapse of the Twin Towers was a single event based on language outlined in the contract between Silverstein and another group of insurance companies, limiting Silverstein's insurance payout to a single payment of $3.5 billion.
City Joins with History Channel to Market the Past
Wednesday, December 8: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a marketing plan created between the city and The History Channel to promote New York City's heritage. Involving several initiatives designed to boost tourism in the city, the unique partnership will also establish a history center in Lower Manhattan and restore historical monuments throughout the five boroughs. For complete coverage, please click here.
New York Waterway Cancels More Routes to Stay Afloat
Wednesday, December 8: Ferry operator New York Waterway announced that it will cancel weekend service between Lower Manhattan and Hoboken, N.J., this month, warning that it may be forced to shut down completely unless it receives financial assistance, the New York Times reported.
After December 26, NY Waterway will cancel its weekend route from its dock at the Hoboken train station to Newport Pier in Jersey City and Lower Manhattan's World Financial Center. Currently, the company operates ferries between the locations every half hour on weekends, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the paper added.
While no plans to help the financially troubled ferry operator have been finalized, both the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and New Jersey's Hudson County Improvement are being called upon to help rescue it. On Monday, two New York City Council members urged the Port Authority to begin providing NY Waterway with a $16.6 million annual subsidy that would reduce ferry fares by 25 percent, the Times said.
The service cut is one of several that the company has been forced to make in the past month. The country's largest privately-owned ferry service, NY Waterway increased ferry service to replace the PATH train to Lower Manhattan, which was closed after the 9/11 attacks. Since the reopening of the World Trade Center PATH station last December, the ferry operator has witnessed a dramatic drop in ridership.
LMCC Receives $5 Million Grant as September Fund Closes
Wednesday, December 8: Before closing its doors on Wednesday, the September 11th Fund announced that it awarded the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) a $5 million grant that will be used by the group to finance dozens of downtown arts groups over the next three years, the New York Times reported.
In January, the LMCC will begin taking applications from downtown nonprofit arts organizations and groups sponsoring related activities in the area for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. The grant money is intended support arts groups with marketing, programming, and capital expenses, the Times said.
The September 11th Fund was part of a federal 9/11 relief fund that was established to administer aid and provide assistance downtown. Since its launch in 2001, it has distributed a total of $528 million. The LMCC grant is the largest of its kind given by the fund to a cultural institution, the Times added.
Congress Approves Intelligence Bill
Wednesday, December 8: The U.S. Senate voted to approve a bill that would overhaul the nation's intelligence system and increase security by preventing gaps in intelligence such as those that may have led to the September 11, 2001, attacks, the New York Times reported.
The bill gained approval by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday and employs some of the key recommendations outlined by the independent September 11 commission in its final report released last summer. Included among them is the creation of a national intelligence director position to facilitate cooperation among the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and 14 other federal intelligence agencies.
Also included in the bill is the creation of a national counterterrorism center, new electronic surveillance powers for law enforcement agencies, uniform national standards in issuing driver's licenses, and additional border security, the Times added.
The bill, which received overwhelming support in the Senate with an 89 to 2 vote, will go on to President George W. Bush -- who has already pledged his support -- to be signed, the paper noted.