Friday, August 24, 2007

A city without leaders

"It's time Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta stopped ducking and dodging."

This is how Juan Gonzalez begins asking tough questions about the tragic Deutsche Bank blaze and other incidents. He continues in "Where have you gone, Scoppetta & Bloomy":

Both men have gone into virtual hiding since Saturday's tragic Deutsche Bank blaze that killed hero Firefighters Robert Beddia and Joe Graffagnino.

How do you face a catastrophic fire at one of the most scrutinized buildings in this city, watch two of the men under your command get killed, and then refuse to speak?

Clearly, Bloomberg and Scoppetta realize the city and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., owners of the Deutsche Bank site, face enormous liability problems now for their failures to properly monitor safety at the tower.

For those of us who have seen the LMDC and other public authorities in action, their inaction is no surprise. Here's how the Downtown Express describes the LMDC in "Early Warnings":
Kathleen Moore asked officials last year what they would do if the former Deutsche Bank building caught fire after the painstaking demolition work began next door to her.

“That’ll never happen,” she remembers Charles Maikish telling her at a Community Board 1 meeting. Maikish, who until recently was the executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, came up to reassure her, but to Moore it sounded like he was saying “don’t worry little lady, we’ll take care of you.”

The meeting was one of dozens the community board had over the years in which officials with the building’s owner, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, or its subsidiary, the construction center, told residents their fears and concerns about the project were unfounded.
But telling residents their concerns are unfound does not make it so. The NYC Economic Development Corporation takes the same attitude with evidence that there was Underground Railroad activity on Duffield Street- any evidence contrary to theirs is considered baseless. The opinions of experts (historians, neighbors or engineers) is not really important.

The LMDC and the EDC have brazen in their disregard for environmental concerns, and Bloomberg and Spitzer have proven themselves part of the problem, not the solution.