The freshly unveiled delays in the construction of the Freedom Tower are disappointing (especially since the timeline was so straightforward up until now), but it's a comfort to know that concern for safety is the impetus for the postponement.
Governor Pataki has ordered a redesign of the flagship structure of Daniel Libeskind's World Trade Center rebuild plan, at the urging of the NYPD to reconsider certain safety issues, most notably moving the building further from West Street and the threat of potential car bombers. Steve Cuozzo at the New York Post outlines a number of more devious explanations that have been suggested to explain the relative inaction to date, ranging from turf battles to the tangled politics of the controversial West Side Stadium.
My guess is that a good share of the delays to date and the pending return to the drawing board owes to the simple fact that the agreed-upon design was never particularly compelling.
Born of a compromise between the two clashing philosophies of "build it bigger and better" and "let's not paint a bulls-eye on lower Manhattan", the current Freedom Tower design does call for a soaring 1,776 foot structure. But fully a third of its height consists of an antenna spire and an enclosed wind farm, leaving its highest occupied floor at a far more modest 1,150 feet (200 feet lower than its twin predecessors), thus failing to achieve either objective. The translucence of the design, while visually intriguing, lays bare the not-quite-boldness and mealy-mouthed irresolution of the design, exposing it as a building of unexceptional height, with a lot of tall stuff on top.
But whether questionable aesthetics, questionable safety, or questionable politics are to blame for the stagnation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Congressman Jerry Nadler (both of whose districts include the WTC site) have seized the opportunity to deride both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki for what they see as a "terrible mistake" and a "total lack of coordination and leadership". Their gripes, fueled by the Governor's announcement of the delay due to the redesign, further chastise him for not taking such action until forced by public pressure.
Perhaps to distract us from that logical kink, Silver explains that part of the problem is that Pataki and Bloomberg are simply distracted by the West Side Stadium issue and ought to concentrate solely on rebuilding the World Trade properties (projects apparently having a mysterious mutual exclusivity). The Speaker has yet to declare an official position on the stadium, in what a cynical sort might view as an attempt to mount political leverage against the pair.
The Speaker's distaste for ambulatory gum chewing isn't limited merely to historic construction projects either. The Silver-led Assembly Democrats blocked a bill passed by the State Senate which would have expanded Megan's Law to include equivalent access to Level 1 and Level 2 (in addition to Level 3) sex offenders in the state's registry. The ostensible reasoning, according to the Niagara Gazette, was that the Assembly was busy trying to get the annual budget submitted on time, a feat with a demonstrably low historical priority.
I'm loathe to second guess these motives, considering protecting children from predators is what's at stake, but here again, a particularly cynical sort might be amused by the coincidence that Speaker Silver's former chief counsel was deemed a Level 1 sex offender by the state.
If the tactic of obstructing the progress of political rivals with hand-wringing about distraction sounds familiar, it's likely because we endured such a massive dose of it from the minority party in the months following the liberation of Iraq. Even today, whenever arguments relevant to the actual merits of Operation Iraqi Freedom run dry, the inevitable lamenting of our tacit decision to let al Qaeda leadership slip away in favor of a misguided adventure can't be far behind.
Thanks to Democrat politicians from the Empire State, however, we now know that even majority parties dabble in disingenuous obstructionism. Attempting concurrent construction projects, much less protecting children while we tweak the budget, is apparently as much a fool's errand as carrying out multiple military engagements.
Handcrafted by Flip on May 5, 2005 |
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