The Anatomy of a Swindle*
*swindle: 1) to cheat (a person, business, etc.) out of money or other assets; 2) to obtain by fraud or deceit.
Updated: March 24, 2013
Another definition of the word “swindle” is that of getting something inferior in exchange for something of value. Our activity in the past two years have been devoted to establishing that the project at Ground Zero is indeed a massive swindle and not a mere difference of opinion or the result of legitimate executive privilege.
While the matter belongs more in the domain of investigative journalism than civic action, we have followed where it has led us. We expected to publish “The Swindle At Ground Zero” detailing the results of our inquiry long before now, but the situation is so dynamic that every time we came close it was clear that it would be premature to spend thousands of dollars printing a definitive report while the case is still building.
In September, 2011, the AAA Clubs of New York and Northern New Jersey sued the WTC’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, over massive toll hikes at their Hudson crossings. The suit contends that funds are being siphoned from tollpayers to build the World Trade Center. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York, where a decision on a rollback of the hikes is now pending. Judge Richard J. Holwell denied the AAA request to rollback the hikes preliminary to the final ruling.
In October, 2011, we wrote a bulletin entitled “Friends of the Court” that got us thinking about our extensive experience with the Port Authority’s lack of transparency and accountability. Realizing that our unique perspective could offer the Court something of value, we looked into how we could go about actually contributing as “Friends of the Court.”
We sent the judge a formal request detailing our relevant experience. We understood that amicus briefs are rarely considered at the District Court level and were honored when we were given permission two weeks later to submit an amicus curiae brief, which we filed, pro se, on December 7, 2011.
Our chief tool in digging for answers has been the Freedom of Information Law. Our requests over the past two years were not limited to the Port Authority, but included the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Mayor’s Office, and the NYC Department of Investigation, among others. A summary of those and various other inquiries will be posted when completed.
It has been a tedious job that had to be done for two reasons. First, because no matter what is built at Ground Zero, the history had to be documented so that people can make up their own minds. Mass media makes it harder for the public to get all the facts and easier for those with power and privilege to manipulate to their advantage what is and is not released — but there is no mistaking the ring of truth.
Second, because if anything ever could or ever will effectively challenge the legitimacy of the current WTC plan — and therefore the massive public expense — it is the Freedom of Information record we have built that shows how helpless officials are to defend their actions or back up their words.
In fact, swindle is much too mild a word for what has taken place on the ground that means so much to us all. We hope that 2013 will be a year of reckoning for those who have shown little regard for the public’s role in governing a great city, a great country, and a great people. Nowhere is what ails this country clearer than at Ground Zero.
Note: Minor corrections or clarifications have been included in brackets.
Background Information | Links to our various efforts over the last two-plus years to document the Swindle At Ground Zero:
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