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Twin Towers Bulletins

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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: August 31, 2010, 01:25:00 pm »

8/8/10 — The Enemy of My Enemy… We don’t really see any of our fellow Americans as enemies, but we see those who have so undermined the will of the American people at Ground Zero as incredibly dense, to say the least. Paul Goldberger has been one of the most destructive infliences, because he has used his position to deceptively mischaracterize both the original Twin Towers and the effort to rebuild them. We look forward to cataloging his extensive misrepresentations one day. But the recent video that was posted on The Huffington Post — Paul Goldberger SLAMS Ground Zero Plans — certainly made up for a lot, because it showed the current project in the most unfavorable light imaginable:

“The office building that is going up is sort of okay, but it’s not I don’t think going to be a distinguished, particularly beautiful building… Simiilarly, the other office buildings that have been planned for the site… are better than the average piece of junk on Third Avenue… that’s true, but that’s not a very ringing endorsement for this site that is so critical to the eyes of the world – where we had the opportunity to show the world that we can do something that was bold and visionary, we have really not succeeded at doing that.”

He calls 1 WTC “a building that is not that different from a lot of commercial buildings built everywhere and, in fact, not as good as many of them,” but since can’t resist getting his passive/aggressive digs in whenever possible, he added that 1 WTC “has a little more flair to it than the old twin towers did.” He once admitted that, “The towers did wonderful things in the light…” (That’s what made them the favorite subject of so many photographers.) But by saying that he thinks a giant obelisk, which is a prominent feature in graveyards everywhere, has more flair than the “old” Twin Towers, he is putting his credibility in question.

What Mr. Goldberger has always missed is something that most Americans know: Nothing would be as “bold and visionary” or make a more noble statement in the eyes of the world than gleaming Twin Towers. He wants to merely reclaim the skyline — most people want to restore it to its former glory. Goldberger’s assessment is shared by many within the field, because their objections are rooted in the presumption that the World Trade Center should have been a stage for their brilliance. But he by no means speaks for the entire architectural community.

Some others in the field knew from the start that this is more a matter of spirit and respect than architectural fashion. The celebrated architect Robert A.M. Stern was quoted in the New York Times on September 23, 2001: “We must rebuild the towers. They are a symbol of our achievement as New Yorkers and as Americans and to put them back says that we cannot be defeated.” Implicit in that comment is the recognition that to fail to put them back is an acknowledgment that we have lost our spirit and therefore can be defeated.

In 2004, the New York Times’ architecture critic, the late Herbert Muschamp wrote “Back to Basics: Twin Towers II,” a column in support of “abandoning the flawed ground zero design process altogether in favor of reconstructing the twin towers more or less as they were.”

What has happened since those opinions were published that resigns us to buildings that next to nobody wants and that reflect so poorly on us as a nation? When put that way, there is only one possible reply: Not much.

Even the ongoing “Twin Towers II vs. Freedom Tower” poll on skyscrapercity.com has run 60-40 for the Twin Towers, which is very telling because some architectural wannabes can be quite closed-minded. No doubt there are some doing what they can to skew the numbers, but so far the results have been holding.

Paul Goldberger’s disparagement of the current project can’t be shrugged off because the public investment is enormous and the site is being permananetly blighted. The Durst Organization was given a 10% share in 1 WTC, after pledging $100 million in the $3.2 billion venture (do the math) but as Goldberger recently pointed out, the Federal and State agreements to occupy 1,000,000 square feet have still not been finalized and may never be. The official propaganda machinery cranks out hype about the “iconic” towers, but if officials really believe it, they appear to be the only ones who do.



8/8/10 — Nine Years of the Wrong Plan is Long Enough… We have posted no new bulletins in the past month, because the action we are taking is being chronicled on the Save The WTC page. We get frequent calls and emails looking for information, but we are sorry we cannot answer individual requests, because we are completely focused on the mailing and other initiatives we want to get launched by the approaching 9th Anniversary.

Even though things are looking grim, we are encouraged as never before that the outlook could soon change dramatically. Of course we understand why some people would get discouraged, but there is nothing going forward that binds us to the wrong plan. As we have pointed out before, the New York metro area has seen three massive sports stadiums demolished in the past three years to make way for something better, so don’t fall for the lie that the activity on the site that is being done with the public’s money on the public’s land can actually stand in the way of a demonstrably more cost-effective, popular, and respectful plan.

The officials’ problem is that they still can’t pay for their plan. Meanwhile, WSJ.com posted an animated video of the transit hub that does a splendid job of showing the people of New York and New Jersey what they are getting for the $3.2 billion — and climbing — price tag. Even locally, most people will never use it and yet, that same money could completely build one state-of-the-art Twin Tower. Imagine spending billions of dollars on a transit hub that most people will never use or see, as opposed to the worldwide effect of raising one Twin Tower.

When people consider that the other Twin Tower in the “Twin Towers II” plan could be built for the price of the “Freedom Tower” and that they could bioth be completed within three years, they will understand what a swindle is being pulled off by our elected officials on 100% public land with public money. The only reason it is going forward is because people can’t consider information they are not given. The fact that spectacular 21st-century Twin Towers could be open and glittering years before the most optimistic completion date for the current four towers — that they cannot pay for, even with billions of public dollars — is why the Twin Towers Alliance recently brought this to the Attorney General, “The People’s Lawyer” for relief.

There has to be a limit to official misconduct and this scam is a new low. Now, if only the so-called journalists would stop leading the cheers for this disgraceful loser of a project, we can still get it right. Far more convincingly than in the instances of the sports arenas, there is no good reason to keep throwing good money after bad at the World Trade Center, when we can have our spectacular skyline back.

But the Twin Towers deserve more than passive support. We put a video campaign in place in May, but have been waiting to really launch it. Now we are asking everyone who wants to be a constructive part of the rebuilding effort to send us a short video, distilling your reasons for why it matters to you into a 30-second clip. And if you really want to be effective, encourage others to do the same. We posted the following invitation on our Vimeo site at www.vimeo.com/RebuildtheTowers.

We are kicking off a campaign to get people’s opinions on the future of the World Trade Center. We hope that everyone who reads this will suspend their ideas of what is and isn’t likely and, instead, speak out about what is and isn’t inspiring and respectful.

Please distill into a video of a minute or less why restoring the skyline with better than ever Twin Towers is important to you.

Visualize yourself speaking to a room of people or else focus on a particular person and communicate what is on your mind and in your heart as if it really matters, because it really does.

Send it to soceg6124@up.vimeo.com and it will appear within a few minutes. Please include your name and location in the subject line as follows: Jefferson Smith | New York, NY — nothing else.

You are free to expand your comment in the body of the message. It will appear with your video as a permanent record of your hopes and dreams for a better World Trade Center and a better world.

What we build on that ground that witnessed such suffering and valor has to be dedicated to bringing out the best in our country and each other. Anything less would be a crime.

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Lisa Wolfe
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 01:25:29 pm »

8/26/10 — RATification… We realize that visitors to the site have a lot of reading to do in order to take in all the nuances of the ongoing battle, which is why we frequently repeat the key points. The latest “milestone” at the World Trade Center, “formally ratifying” the public’s underwriting of the Silverstein towers, is the perfect opportunity to summarize how we see our prospects today, which we did on a New York Times blog.

It is especially useful to be able to explain our perspective in a blog where people will be coming across the information for the first time. There are space limitations at the New York Times where the comment below was originally posted, so we couldn’t go into the pending efforts to engage the Attorney General’s assistance and the formal petition we are preparing to send to Washington in September. But at any point it could take off and become a movement. A solid foundation has been laid and common sense is definitely on our side:

Anyone who thinks that the Politburo-style grab of the World Trade Center is respectable is gullible, to say the least. Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to point out that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

If only the mainstream media had done its job and reported all the facts, billions of dollars would never have been poured down that drain. But that doesn’t mean we should just keep pouring away.

What is happening at the World Trade Center will be looked back on as one of the most egregious power grabs in our history. What the mosque and the Trade Center have in common is that an overwhelming majority of the public is being marginalized, which, in both instances, is only possible because the media is skewing the debate.

In both cases, legitimate concerns are being conveniently ignored. The difference is that in the mosque controversy, which is being mischaracterized as upstanding Americans vs. hateful bigots, civil rights vs. hurt feelings, there actually are legitimate property rights to factor in.

But the World Trade Center is 100% public property. It has been since it was condemned in the 60s for public use and the landholders were paid with public funds.

In 2001, when Pataki grandstanded the issue and the public was told that the proceeds of the leases would pay for the 2nd Avenue subway, the Port Authority was actually doing an excellent job of managing the property and was clearing a profit in excess of $100 million a year – contrary to the rote repetition that the Towers were losers.

That is one of those convenient urban legends that people parrot but has no basis in fact – like the asbestos canard. As for the insurance money, one thing Silverstein did with it was repay himself for his initial $114 million investment, which was the mother of all sub-prime mortgages. So he is just along for the ride.

When Silverstein was awarded his LEASES in 2001, he signed a contract saying that he would rebuild the premises, according to the existing plans, if they were ever destroyed. That promise was made to the public, the actual owners of the property. The Port Authority is the public’s agent and Silverstein is our tenant.

Everything that is happening at the WTC is the result of shutting the public out of the process and feeding us garbage for facts. Politicians aren’t known for their honesty, and bureaucrats aren’t known for their vision. But the only check on their abuse of power – informed citizens – has been derailed by high-powered propaganda and the embargo on the facts. So this latest “milestone” is only a marker of how degraded the media is.

The fact that can’t be gotten around is that the public is paying for whatever is built. Whether through billions in Port Authority tolls, Federal largess, leases, and Liberty Bonds, or City and State taxes, public property is being rebuilt with public dollars as if the public doesn’t exist.

Buildings that practically nobody wants are going up in place of the two towers that practically everybody wants and we are being forced to pay for it. A comment posted on the Twin Towers Alliance petition last week revealed what is at the heart of the matter:

“Until today I believed I was the only one who felt that The Twin Towers should have been rebuilt just the way they were as soon as possible after 9/11 and that leaving this hole in America was only part of fear mongering and political games leaving us a weaker rather than stronger nation…”

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE, in today’s wired world, that people don’t know that a bipartisan majority of New Yorkers and Americans are in favor of new Twin Towers and have been all along?

Or that a spectacular 21st-century World Trade Center that would restore the skyline while incorporating all the bells and whistles of the current plan is still the more affordable option – no matter how far they have gone – and could be built beside the current memorial far ahead of the current plan?

It is time to federalize the property because state and local officials have forfeited the right to control it. Give the public a chance to buy shares in what would become the most profitable real estate consortium anywhere, instead of backing the biggest dud.

Then what we build at the site where we were all attacked would broadcast to the world that we are back in control of our destiny. Otherwise, we’re not behind an Iron Curtain — we are behind a Cement Curtain. If venal politicians and media corporations get away with [building] this pathetic mockery, then the Freedom Tower will one day be viewed as our democracy’s gravestone.

If elected officials can overrule what the people want to build on their own property and use our money to do it, then how can we pretend to be a democracy? Voting once every four years and getting ignored the rest of the time is not representative democracy.

Formally ratifying the wrong plan doesn’t make it the right one. It never will.

http://www.twintowersalliance.com/petition/bulletins
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