A battle may be brewing between billionaire heavyweights Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump over their divergent vision for the former ‘landmark New York restaurant and watering hole of the rich and famous’ known as Tavern on the Green. This is, however, not the first issue over which these two titans have clashed (see video above and read more below). Say what you will about Donald Trump but every time politicians have reminded us what can’t be done and exhibit a serious lack of the ‘vision thing’ Donald Trump reminds what can be done, what should be done and why someone should just maybe give him the damn keys and get out of the way. Consider the following projects:
(a )WOLLMAN SKATING RINK: The City, under Mayor Ed Koch, after the Wollman Rink fell into disrepair gave up on its restoration, essentially saying that it couldn’t be done. Donald Trump completed what we now know of as the Trump Wollman Skating Rink in 4 months.
(b) TWIN TOWERS: Donald Trump supported Kenneth Gardner’s WTC 2011 Plan to rebuild newer, stronger, taller Twin Towers. Bloomberg curtly dismissed any talk of rebuilding the iconic Twin Towers and has had literally 10 years to put up half a building. Bloomberg instead expended a tremendous amount of his political will and energy into a National 9/11 Memorial & Museum and later an Islamic Cultural center near Ground Zero. In a poignant blog on the import of ‘The Pursuit of Happiness” the Twin Towers Alliance asks:
We have the clip of Mayor Bloomberg haughtily decreeing: “We are not going to rebuild the World Trade Center Towers.” But where is the clip of Mayor Bloomberg, or anyone else, patiently explaining WHY NOT? SAYS WHO?
(c)TAVERN ON THE GREEN: Trump came to the rescue of Tavern on the Green this past week, or so it seemed. Associated Press reported that Trump struck a deal with union boss Peter Ward. Before anyone could get too excited, however, Mayor Bloomberg literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at a news conference said that the shuttered Tavern on the Green “doesn’t exist at the moment”, may never re-open and the site will continue to operate as a Visitors Center. The mayor further reminded New Yorkers that because the complexion of the city has changed, including the proliferation of upscale restaurants around the city, that the city may not even need such a prolific venue in that location. Bloomberg stated: ”It’s not clear you need another big sit-down, touristy kind of restaurant.” (See: NY Post, Mike: Closing Time, Doubts Tavern on the Green should reopen).
Tavern on the Green is now open as a visitors center with according to the Huffington Post, ‘its famous crystal room demolished and replaced with a courtyard [featuring food trucks].’ The Mayor’s vision or pure chutzpah, depending on your perspective, includes replacing the food trucks at the landmark location with a Shake Shack. A more visionary approach? Or could it be that Bloomberg favors Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group over Donald Trump?Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post reminds us that regardless, many of the city’s politicians don’t want to see the famed Crystal Room rebuilt because it may have been illegal in the first place. Does this not all seem so remarkably similar to the Mayor’s vision for Lower Manhattan?
Mayor Mike Bloomberg for all of his administrative expertise & vaunted CEO Skills has seemingly morphed into a vision-less leader consumed with his own pet projects and pontificating on national issues that have absolutely nothing to do with restoration of the character, integrity and soul of New York City, but may only hopefully serve to maintain the illusion of his fading presidential aspirations.
Critiquing Bloomberg is problematic because it makes many of us (including this commentator) hypocrites; hypocrites for our willingness to compromise our values, overlook his term limits scheme (Bloomberg was against them before he was for them and after he used threats and intimidation of the City Council to overturn them and gain re-election to a third term he was against them again) because we felt more comfortable during these uncertain times with his administrative expertise and vaunted executive skills of the founder of Bloomberg LP. Bloomberg’s $1 annual salary, his commitment to public safety and security and his apparently being beholden to nobody while looking like a billion bucks with his wannabe opponents looking paltry in comparison (not even like a million bucks), not only made a majority of New Yorkers feel more secure but it also insured that there would be no contest. The civic minded, big business and a federation of business leaders, labor officials, and politicians committed to ‘making New York a better place to work, live and visit’ were comforted by Bloomberg and some may even have feared the election of a Democratic machine politician who might make a wide turn left or govern with a more populist approach, someone like say Anthony Weiner. It took over $100 million dollars and untold donations to numerous charitable and cultural institutions who supported him while hiding plenty from the citizens he represents, to defeat a poorly financed political stiff in Bill Thompson with whom the the Mayor had a curiously intertwined relationship (See, Village Voice, Bloomberg & Thompson: The Really Odd Couple). That Mayor Mike was able to win by a very small margin (4.6%) should have served as a reminder that this administration has a broken dialogue with the citizens of this city. The Zeitgeist is turning against him locally and nationally, especially because of the broken social contract at Ground Zero.
Certainly during this economic downturn, the Mayor and his team deserve credit for their efforts to advance the interests of New York City and in a nod to the Giuliani Legacy, continuing to focus on driving tourism into the metropolis and avoiding a descent into the abyss of 1970’s. But here we are nearly 10 years since 9/11 and The Great Enigmatic Compromise at the World Trade Center site has resulted in a 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the mayor’s office supporting the Park 51 mega mosque, with the one New York Restoration Project totally and completely ignored, rebuilding the iconic Twin Towers, in favor of a vision that may turn Lower Manhattan into a ‘Disneyland of Death.’ While a hole remains in the soul of this city, this year will finally bring us a place to mourn 9/11. Is this rebuilding or restoring the character and soul of our metropolis or in effect turning it into a giant morgue or cemetery? Why don’t we just put up a sign that reads: NYC: RIP—This is the Place where Capitalism & Free Enterprise once lived.
While I considered whether the snowstorm of 2010 was Bloomberg’s Waterloo, truth is that there have been a number of things which should have served as his Waterloo but he has repeatedly been let off the hook because his vast resources and stature as New York City’s Mayor and media kingpin have given him a platform in the national debate even as many local issues may no longer be relevant or of concern to a man who has seemingly accomplished everything yet finds that even his unlimited coffers may not buy him the Presidency, much less another term as mayor.
Our leaders ought to be encouraging a direct dialogue with citizens, but instead they pontificatefrom their exalted media platforms. When you seek literally to control the marketplace of ideas, and in effect close off debate and stifle legitimate inquiry, you crowd out competing views, perspective, investment and perhaps even other sources of philanthropy. Where they should persuade and convince citizens of the merits of their ideas and the reasons why as NYC Mayor one would say no to rebuilding the Twin Towers but instead push mightily, passionately and in a truly hyperbolic fashion for the building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero against the will of the people, and then instead highlight the nearing completion of a 9/11 Memorial & Museum as a great and symbolic accomplishment. Given that it will have taken over a decade to literally put up anything downtown of import makes any such claim absolutely ridiculous. Notably, the opening has been delayed to September 11, 2012, it has been reported that Jon Stewart has been appointed to 9/11 Museum Board. In 2011 whatever Project Rebirth is being documented downtown, at present it still largely looks like a construction site with one half built building.
The core problem downtown is the complete and total lack of a coherent vision to restore Lower Manhattan; and the failure to understand the import of what the iconic Twin Towers symbolized to this city while other ‘half-baked’ ideas were hatched downtown in the name of civic renewal. To think that a decade later putting a 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Cordoba’s Initiative’s triumphal mega mosque will replace what was destroyed is simply foolhardy. But to disregard the clear will of the people is belligerent and a willful and blatant disregard of the social contract (see: Twin Towers Alliance Foundation).
With 1960’s technology the Twin Towers went up in 6 years. The Empire State Building, which is still a great building, was raised as an “embodiment of magnificence” in 14 months of construction between 1930 and 1931 on the heals of The Great Depression. From the Mayor’s bold pronouncements in his inaugural address at City Hall in 2002 that “We will rebuild, renew and remain the capital of the free world,” Bloomberg will have needed in effect three terms to install a 9/11 Memorial & Museum with his hand picked staffers and board members who “cashed in” while the WTC site remains barren of Twin Towers and the future skyline (still incomplete) capped by a Tombstone. This has led noted historical observers to call this ‘Michael Bloomberg’s Memorial.’ This thus begs the question, is this a memorial for 9/11 or a memorial for the end of our metropolis as we know it?
In hindsight, some day as we look back at what historically changed or downsized the character and soul of New York City, we may come to view the battle between Bloomberg vs. Trump as one “Of Mice and Men” and the battle of ideas between Bloomberg vs. the people as one simply bypassed, a dialogue never fully engaged; a broken social contract. Thank you Twin Towers Alliance for fighting the good fight and to Voices of September 11th and the numerous family members for reminding of ‘the Messages’ and dreams of your loved ones and what we lost that fateful day in September 2001. Finally, I must acknowledge and accept that the opinions expressed herein are my own and that I know full well that we may not all share the same perspective, opinion or politics. Please know that the conclusions drawn were not easy to arrive at or necessarily pleasurable ones to make public. I am nevertheless a better more enlightened citizen for your spirit of generosity in not only considering my opinion but also in helping to shape them. God bless you all.
-Twin Towers II: This is America’s plan for the World Trade Center put forth by Kenneth Gardner & Herbert Belton. See also Twin Towers II Media & Events
-Twin Towers Alliance
-National 9/11 Memorial (Planned)
-9/11 Memorial (alternative)
-World Memorial (idea)
-WTC: Present site for the World Trade Center
-Tribute WTC Visitors Center
-Voices of September 11th: 9/11 Living Memorial founded by victim’s family members.
-September 11 Digital Archive
-Ground Zero Museum Workshop
-Interview with Kevin Gardner, structural engineer for Twin Towers II
-LMDC: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
-Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York
-Article | Disneyland of Death by Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute: This is a timeless piece on what has ultimately led to a perversion of the character and soul of our metropolis. Some day people will come to the World Trade Center literally to buy a hat, a poster and memory of 9/11 and not to do business or engage in International Trade.
-The Zero at Ground Zero by Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute.
-Ground Zero of National Paralysis by Deroy Murdock
-New Twin Towers? It May Not Be Too Late by Nicole Gelinas: highlights the Belton/Gardner Twin Towers II plan.
-New York: A Documentary Film – WTC Intro
-Twin Towers YouTube Playlist
-Ground Zero New Twin Towers – MSNBC News (Hypocrisy Watch)
-World Trade Center Donald Trump – MSNBC News
-Twin Towers Press Conference – NY1 & MSNBC NEWS
-New Twin Towers for a New America
Resources (including alternate perspective)
-History Commons: Complete 911 Timeline
-9/11 Truth Movement
-9/11 Truth Videos
-Michael C. Ruppert’s Collapse Network
-911Docs.net: Free 9/11 Documentaries & Videos
-From the Wilderness
-WSJ: Sounding an Alarm on Oil: Independent journalist Michael Ruppert predicted the global recession. Now he’s foreseeing an imminent energy crisis
-The Zeitgeist Film Series Gateway
-The Zeitgeist Movement