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Thursday, October 05, 2006

From beyond the grave

Bloomberg Set to Lead 9/11 Memorial Group

Published: October 4, 2006

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, one of the sharpest critics of the planning and fund-raising for the 9/11 memorial at ground zero, would take over the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation as chairman under an arrangement brokered by members of its board, government officials and board members said yesterday.

The mayor has already given one of the largest donations to the memorial — $10 million, by several accounts — and this would put him in a position to re-energize the memorial’s anemic fund-raising campaign. The appointment, approved yesterday by the foundation’s executive committee, could go before the foundation’s full board as early as tomorrow. Also under the arrangement, Gov. George E. Pataki, who has great sway over the board, would become the foundation’s honorary lifetime chairman. He has been looking to lock in a role in the future of Lower Manhattan past the end of his term this year.

Government and foundation officials would speak only on the condition of anonymity because the appointments were not yet final.

Mr. Bloomberg’s new position — which has no fixed term — is intended to focus mainly on fund-raising and could be finished before he leaves office in 2009. The appointment is the most direct evidence yet of his intention to insert himself into the rebuilding, and is an attempt to break the logjams that have seen victims’ families at war with politicians and others over the design and other elements of the project.

At the same time, it could spark political battles of its own, since he has differed with some of the victims’ relatives over important design issues — like the arrangement of the names of the dead. And Eliot Spitzer, the leading candidate for governor, has not been shy about involving himself in major public projects in the city.

Mr. Bloomberg has spent much of this year criticizing the planning and fund-raising efforts for the memorial, which fell far short of the goals
Pataki wants a large say in what happens in lower Manhattan, trying to block Spitzer. Which is going to fail miserably. He's going to be the most powerful governor since Rockefeller and trying to block him isn't going to work. He's likely to control the legislature, and has powerful friends in Harlem who can sway many downstate deals.

My bet is that much of the way the WTC is run is neutered or simply eliminated by a compliant state legislature who will rewrite the laws.

First to find out exactly how tough Spitzer is will be Peter Kalikow. He thinks he's going to remain MTA chairman. That's amusing.

But there will be others.

posted by Steve @ 12:08:00 AM

12:08:00 AM

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