Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
— Dr. Martin Luther King
LOOKING OUT FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST AT GROUND ZERO
Today's World Trade Center is the result of massive abuses and misuses of power. It is the aim of the Twin Towers Alliance to set the twisted record straight – because identifying abuses in the past is the best way to address possible abuses in the present and prevent likely abuses in the future. For us, that starts with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, but it does not end there.
We respect the men and women who poured their hearts into building One World Trade Center. But we do not respect the men and women who lied it into existence – George Pataki and Michael Bloomberg above all. There were many pressing reasons – economic, symbolic, geopolitical, among others – to rebuild the Twin Towers. But the one that trumped all the rest was public opinion.
If there were legitimate reasons to replace a beloved landmark with something else, the case needed to be made to the people. The site's owner, the Port Authority, operates with public funds. The rebuilding of Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan was paid for by every American taxpayer. Certainly, the victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country deserved a response that faithfully honored our nation's democratic principles. But officials didn't try to make the case, because they knew they would not win.
That was indefensible and inexcusable. They were not willing to let democracy operate because it didn't fit their hidden agenda. If there was a good reason to ratify Al Qaeda's obsession with finishing what they started in 1993, instead of repairing the butchered skyline with lightning speed, they should have shared it with the people. They didn't dare. And, apparently, the media didn't care.
Click on the image above to see what the people could have had, should have had, and would have had if only our democracy had been allowed to function. The rotten truth is that it was short-circuited instead. What the majority of the people wanted, both in our country and around the world, according to all the evidence, wasn't inadvertently defeated by misunderstanding and incompetence. It was deliberately sabotaged by connivance and deceit. The skyline has become a monument to contempt for what the people want.
Why does that matter now? When people learn of how badly they have been misled at the World Trade Center, how it happened and what we can do about it, we will hold the keys to reforming every aspect of our increasingly unaccountable government. And we have a bipartisan duty to do so. If we can't draw the line here, when will we ever take control? That is why our focus at the Twin Towers Alliance shifted to turning over every rock at Ground Zero to expose the many ways in which the country was swindled.
It's a slow process, but starts with our lawsuit, now making its way through the New York Supreme Court. We aim to uncover the details of Larry Silverstein's hard-to-fathom, sweetheart deal with the Port Authority that has cost the public so dearly. We also continue to champion the return to the World Trade Center site of the massive, heroic "Koenig Sphere" that survived the crashing towers, but could not withstand the crushing bureaucracy that hijacked Ground Zero and banished it from its rightful place of honor.
Finally, we will continue to express outrage and disgust that the Bloomberg machine has locked the unidentified remains of the 9/11 victims in the basement of the 9/11 Museum. While he was still mayor, the Bloomberg administration fought to preserve a lock on the precious relics – but without the explicit permission of every next-of-kin, determined democratically, the remains are there by confiscation. It is completely immoral. Instead of reposing in a tomb on the Memorial grounds – as they would be anywhere else in our country or world – where people can freely pay their respects, mourners must pay $24 to reach the remains. How revolting!
It is time to examine the pervasive misinformation that gives unwarranted credibility and traction to myths and half-truths that should have been discredited long ago. As far as we at the Twin Towers Alliance can see, the lessons of the last fourteen-and-a-half years at Ground Zero are clear: Officials cannot be trusted to do what is in the public's best interests and the media cannot be trusted to tell us what we need to know. Both require muscular oversight to encourage them to do the right thing.
We owe it to ourselves, those we lost, and all those who are yet to come to make the World Trade Center as true to our values as it can be. Only then will it be a fitting memorial to the loved ones and to the world that died on 9/11. We have to stop making "the best of it" and instead dedicate ourselves to making the most of it – because just good enough is definitely not good enough here.
If asked to choose what best represents our hopes for the future, of all we have written, this would probably be it. It appeared for years on our "Bulletins" page (archived below), above this comment from our petition that summed up what so many believed:
"When someone dies it is impossible to bring them back to life, but we are given a unique opportunity to do just that in this case;
This video provides the best explanation we have for so much that is wrong with the World Trade Center, New York City, and the United States of America. Citizens have to stay on top of unaccountable officials because they can do so much long-lasting damage. Better-than-ever Twin Towers were certainly the most feasible, affordable, and popular option. They would have inspired the world.
After 9/11, Queen Elizabeth was quoted as saying, "Grief is the price we pay for love." But what about the price we pay for greed, and arrogance, and the abuse of power? The public is still paying for 9/11 every day in ways that people would be shocked to learn. What we see at the WTC now is what thousands of courageous and dedicated workers have made of it. But what we can't see is what we were cheated out of by Michael Bloomberg, George Pataki, and a host of not-so-special interests. The workers' idealism can't undo the connivance and manipulation behind a plan that is an offense to the memory of those we lost and doesn't come close to measuring up to the world that vanished with them.
Cheating the people out of what would have been an epic recovery was a crime in every way. The world badly needs inspiring. If those with power were able to misuse it to rob us of the WTC most of us wanted, and to then escape having to answer for it, they can get away with anything. There is an epidemic in this country of being squeamish about holding people accountable for their actions. That is almost as corrupt as the wrongdoing.
There is little incentive for officials to do the right thing when there are never any unpleasant consequences for doing the wrong thing. The way Michael Bloomberg and George Pataki shortchanged the public at Ground Zero are prime examples of that. If we want to know why our country is such a bipartisan, dysfunctional mess, we can just look at the World Trade Center and learn the lessons.
We all have the same vital interest in showing that the people are driving this nation – not the powerful few. If we couldn't make those sixteen acres of public land reflect the popular will – just minutes from where government of-by-and-for the people began – then we have a democracy in name only and will continue to lose all the battles that matter until we defeat what is defeating us.
Ten years ago, we began with the belief that "It is not too late to do the right thing – and do the thing right." We still believe that. If officials can't do the right thing at Ground Zero, what hope is there for the future? If the people give them a pass, then we deserve what we get. But we at the Twin Towers Alliance are building the case against those who abused and misused their power and we are confident that when the public realizes what went wrong at the World Trade Center, and what can still go right, citizens will rally.
Officials have thrown billions of the public's dollars into a site that Larry Silverstein was contractually bound to pay for. They let him off the hook and put the public on the hook. So of course they finally have something to show for it. But what? How can a building that was only built by lying to the public that paid for it ever be considered a tribute to our country or to the innocent victims and heroes we lost on 9/11? How can a skyline that looks like the WTC after the first tower fell ever be called a recovery?
They weren't even willing to rebuild the fabulous rooftop observation deck that the people loved or the top-notch restaurant they deserved. Instead they turned the indoor observation deck into a cheesy operation that is all about profit, nothing more. Why?!!!! We take no pleasure in panning what some people regard as a triumph. But it does no good to pretend the deception never happened or make-believe the people weren't robbed...
Now that another solemn anniversary has passed, it is important to look into went wrong at the World Trade Center site and what still can go right. “Never Forget” and “United We Stand” can't be empty promises. What can now be built has changed, but we really can make the World Trade Center a much, much better place than it is today. We owe the victims and heroes no less. In the new year, we will point out some important ways we can repay that debt.
The Twin Towers Alliance was formed at the end of 2005. At that time, it was still conceivable that officials could be persuaded to honor the popular will and heal our wounded nation by building state-of-the-art Twin Towers at Ground Zero. For many, it was inconceivable that they wouldn't. They chose not to. Instead, they used the power they were given by the people to lie and cheat the current, dispiriting, World Trade Center into existence. Since 2010, we have been doing our part, and more, as watchdogs over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to expose the damage that unaccountable government can do and to demand that officials answer to the people for their choices.
The TTA mission has evolved over the years and we have revised the site to reflect that. We've added the word "is" to the header to spell out the connection between what the people want and America deserves. The missing tower tops will remain as a reminder of what happens when government goes rogue. Representative democracy only works when our representatives represent us. When they fail to do that, and the media fails to inform us, it is our duty to protest.
Going forward, this website will be a tribute to not only the Twin Towers, but particularly to the dedicated, tireless efforts of the many individuals and organizations who tried to convince officials to respect the will of the people. And, it will continue to provide the impetus and ideas for a better World Trade Center. But, the bulk of our efforts will go beyond the Twin Towers by challenging the wide-ranging abuses of power that continue to scar the World Trade Center, and consequently, our nation.
Click on the"Swindle" link above for developments in our ongoing battle to direct attention to the Port Authority/Silverstein swindle at Ground Zero. Other abuses of the public trust that have developed during the last thirteen years, and ideas and opportunities for how citizens can constructively address them, will be posted on the twintowersalliance.org, which is under construction. Once it is launched, it will be accessible by clicking on the "Foundation" tab above.
Navigation tabs to the left of center relate to the TTA.com, while those to the right of center to the TTA.org site and the Twin Towers Journal, where we put each week's WTC-related news into context. The three sites will provide a sturdy platform for anyone who wants to speak out against the corruption at Ground Zero. We trust that when the American people finally catch on there will be dramatic change.