Monday, July 27, 2009

Any Other Port in a Storm

We have hammered away at the failure of the Port Authority-along with developer Larry Silverstein-to develop the sacred ground where the Trade Center once stood; but now we find that the Authority-adding insult to injury-is padding its payroll in a blatant example of how incompetency so often gets rewarded at these quasi-governmental pig pens: "Port Authority salaries have been cleared for takeoff. The payroll for the bloated bi-state agency that runs the three airports, the bus terminal and six bridges and tunnels saw the number of employees making six-figure salaries soar by 205 in 2008."

So what's the rationale for all of this largess? Well, according to the NY Post: "A PA spokeswoman said the raises were the result of an analysis conducted by a consultant last year. "The Port Authority operates some of the most sophisticated transportation projects," agency spokeswoman Candace McAdams said. "We benchmark our management positions against both public and private sectors to attract and retain talent."

Lots of comp from the private sector in retaining all of this "talent?" In the midst of the worst recession in over seven decades? Please, spare us! Which brings us to the Ground Zero fiasco-and hats off to the Staten Island BP for calling the PA out on this ""It's outrageous to give these people raises like that," said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro. "They admit that they have problems they can't resolve at the World Trade Center. It's eight years since 9/11, and we don't have a memorial out there. It's outrageous. How do you reward yourself for incompetence? And there's no one to check on it," he lamented."

In our post last week we wondered why the state and city-and our two vaunted chief executives-didn't simply condemn the sacred space and devise a plan to make sure that the site was properly commemorative of what happened on 9/11. And, as far as the mayor is concerned, our wonder never ceases. This is, after all, the same cool guy who wields eminent domain like a machete whenever he sees a small business in the way of one of his grand schemes.

So, why not collaborate with the state and condemn the PA's stakehold-and Silverstein's lease along with it? Does the reason lie with the fact that Mr. Silverstein and the Port are big guys-those entities that are always, "too big to fail?" The building of a civic project at Ground Zero is precisely what eminent domain laws were passed for. The inaction-and silence-of our elected officials tells a profound story about the inequitable use of the taking clause of the US Constitution. Someone should call our leaders on this inequity.