Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why Ground Zero Is Still Near Zero

In short, lack of leadership from top to bottom. In detail, consider these facts: The design competition was too long (over 17 months) in selecting a winner. – The winning design was not satisfactory from an architectural and security standpoint (replaced 28 months after being selected). – Memorial design plans have been highly disputed and overpriced despite forced cost-cutting. – The developer and the mayor’s feuding led to building delays until power was shifted from the developer to the Port Authority. – The proposed transit hub suffers from design flaws and higher than projected costs to complete. Engineers are working to save money, delaying the rest of the project as a result. – Insurance carriers delayed payments until May of 2007. – Though the WTC-site cleanup for remains was ended in May, 2002, additional remains were found later on. This justifiably slowed the rebuilding process so other remains might be located. In the long run, the buildings that finally replace the World Trade Center will be over-budget and overdue. This we can’t blame on Osama Bin Laden. That blame is ours. As New Yorkers, we’ve seen mismanagement of large building projects, time and again. Few stand up to complain. So we’ll wait, who knows how long. We’ll overpay, by hundreds of billions of dollars. But we won’t rise up as one to hold the guilty accountable. Maybe like the former troubled Wollman Rink project, we needed the “can do” attitude of a Donald Trump to manage this effort. Maybe we still do.

U.S. Hot Dog Hero Nips Nipponese

Nathan’s annual eating contest took place in Coney. Revised rules for 2008 cut the time limit from 12 minutes down to its original 10 minutes. As time expired, the two favorites had each swallowed 59 hotdogs and buns! In the first-ever tie breaker, last year’s weiner, Californian Joey Chestnut defeated six-time weiner, Japanese Takeru Kobayashi by downing five additional dogs first. That’s a weining total of 64 hotdogs! Eating contestants really do have guts! At Nathan’s current price of $2.95 per hotdog, Mr. Chestnuts’ recent meal would have cost $188.80 if ordered at Nathan's counter. Maybe that explains the appeal of eating in the contest as opposed to ordering at the counter.

MLB - Retire Ruth’s 3

Babe Ruth was the greatest player of any sport to don a sports uniform in New York City’s history. His bigger-than-life New York Yankees legend and many of his records have endured for well over 70 years since his retirement! Now, a new effort led by granddaughter Linda Ruth Tosetti is urging Major League Baseball to retire his #3 throughout the league. Baseball achievements aside, they cite his strong stance against fascism and racism as the reason he’s as deserving of the honor as Jackie Robinson and his #42. The Connecticut-based Ms. Tosetti is working tirelessly with researchers and historians to come up with more facts to supplement what’s already known about the Bambino. MLB spokesman Patrick Courtney said that all number-retirement efforts are “under advisement.” It doesn’t sound like MLB will be hitting one out-of-the-park for the Babe anytime soon. That’s a shame. He deserves the honor and respect. But then again, NOBODY hit them out like the Babe did. Ever. Contact MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Let him know what you think.

NOTE: Friends, family and many Latinos are also looking for the same respect for their greatest player, #21 Roberto Clemente.


Flea Market Flowers Turn Green

A lucky buyer at Manhattan's West 25th Street Flea Market purchased a picture of some ordinary looking flowers. Cost? $10. Unknown to the buyer (and undoubtedly to the seller), an original, hand-written, two-page manuscript containing the lyrics to “My Country Tis Of Thee” was used as part of the picture’s backing. It was found by the new picture's owner during restoration. Estimated value of the purchase now? $100,000. They say that "art is in the eye of the beholder." It seems that music may not always be limited to the ear.

Tunneling Towards Tomorrow

One day in 2015 (Scheduled end date but we all know it be later.), a Long Island Rail Road tunnel to Grand Central Station is to be completed. The first leg of that $7.2 billion LIRR tunnel was recently dug. The next section should be completed by the end of this summer. Both MTA chief Elliot Sander and Gene Russianoff of the Straphangars Campaign are happily on-board with the project. It's nice to see positive action below ground that will benefit New York City. It's much preferable to the typical head-in-the-sand, ostrich behavior by government agencies when it comes to obtaining favorable results.

Fallen Angel In The Apple

The Metropolitan Museum of Art reported that a 15th century sculpture fell from a wall and broke into several pieces. The terra cotta work of art of St. Michael the Archangel was done by Andrea della Robbia for the church. The wings were broken off but it’s believed the piece can be restored. The museum is now inspecting the moorings of all of it’s art works. Maybe a little prayer after closing would help too.

Guns Gone AWOL

According to City Comptroller William Thompson, “an alarming number” of guns and rifles seized in crimes regularly disappear from the NYPD, at least for awhile anyway. Recently, 94 (29%) of 325 weapons were reported missing. Most were eventually found but should they ever have been lost? Thompson takes shots at the police department’s poor records system. In response, the NYPD said it’s purchasing a $28 million record system to better handle this problem. Will the City Comptroller likewise raise an issue about the high cost of this computer system??? Even a part-time employee with a handheld computer could do a better job, don't you think?

NYC Homeowners Taxes On The “Up” Escalator

The average city homeowners’ property tax will rise by $171 this year. Local real estate taxes are expected to add $13.78 billion to the city’s coffers. By far, this is the largest source of income the city generates. With billions in cash and the law behind them enforcing collection, it’s doubtful this political gravy train will change direction any time soon. To those who believe that New York City officials are spending every penny they gather wisely, rejoice. To everyone else, start saving up a bit more for next year’s levy and keep smiling, lest someone think you're unhappy about the increase.