Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wild About Larry

The NY Daily News picks up on one of the Ground Zero themes that we made yesterday-the culpability of Larry Loot Siverstein in the inordinant delays in the re-building of that sacred space: "If you are among the millions of New Yorkers who have had it with eight years of incompetence in reconstruction at Ground Zero, and if you are among those for whom trying to referee between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority is like trying to score a fight between sewer alligators, herewith a cheat sheet to the latest tangling."

Unfortunately, the mayor in his zeal to maintain his grip on power, has only focused on the Port-and has unfairly-and inexplicably-left the Larry alligator out of his harsh critique; a big omission in our view: "Silverstein holds the rights to build three enormous towers on the World Trade Center site, but he is running out of cash. Silverstein hasn't a snowball's chance of financing the skyscrapers because he has no tenants. Silverstein has no tenants because New York's economy - in particular, the financial industry - is in severe contraction. Silverstein has persuaded the Port Authority to get behind one building to the tune of almost $1 billion - a building that will be occupied only because the city and the PA have agreed to take space at inflated rents. Silverstein wants the Port Authority to back construction of two even bigger towers with more billions in public money. The Port Authority said no way. Gov. Paterson said no how. The Port Authority said that it would help out if Silverstein found anyone - anyone - willing to invest private money."

It's time for the city and the state to give both the Port and Siverstein the heeve ho-they have dithered enough; and the mayor, along with all of the former governors, have been as nonfeasant as any elected officials could be. This is, after all, supposed to be sacred space-and for seven and a half years Mike Bloomberg hasn't said much of anything about the lack of action on the site.

Now, however, he takes off on the amorphous public authority-giving the equally culpable Silverstein a free pass; something that the News makes very clear Silverstein doeasn't deserve: "Silverstein dissed Paterson big-time by throwing his dispute with the Port Authority into arbitration. Silverstein needs enormous sums of public money immediately because doom is fast approaching: If he does not complete construction of all three towers by 2014, he loses everything. Silverstein's gambit is a naked attempt to muscle money out of the public in order to rescue his multibillion-dollar Trade Center dreams from the wreckage of America's economic meltdown. Silverstein needs to get real."

No, he needs to get lost-and the mayor, who says he wants to use his, "bully pulpit," to get the MTA to make certain changes in mass transit, needs to force Silverstein and the Port to bite the bullet. Now! And the way to do it is to move swiftly to condemn the property and begin to personally take charge over the redevelopment of the site.

The fact that we still have a hole in the ground while the mayor has had eight years of lockjaw on the matter is to his everlasting shame. That he hesitates to use eminent domain to kick his fellow billionaire out of the site is certainly, as the socialists say, no accident. It's only the little guys who become the targets of government taking-especially when class acts like Mike Bloomberg are running things.