The Horrible (and Continuing) Waste of 9/11


This is still the best 9/11-related piece of art…

In the Village Voice, Graham Rayman has a great, detailed story about how the 9/11 industry continues to pick pockets on both sides of the Hudson. One of the biggest money drains is coming in the form of a proposed hike in bridge tolls and PATH train fares: 

The Port Authority, a bistate agency that owns the World Trade Center site, initially claimed that the increase was necessary because of maintenance needs in its capital plan. But soon, the real reason emerged: $2.2 billion in more cost overruns at the World Trade Center site.

One World Trade Center is over budget by $186 million, the transit center is $200 million over budget, and other site work is $422 million over estimates from just two years ago. And those costs don't include $500 million the agency is trying to recoup from the September 11 Memorial, the MTA and the state DOT.

In other words, the already gold-plated construction plan for Ground Zero has blown its budget again and the people who are least responsible for the increase, the people who actually pay their taxes and suffer the daily commute into Manhattan, have to come up with the money to pay for it. And they have no choice in the matter. (Construction unions were all for the toll hike, and appeared at the hearing to cheer for it.)

Note that when Rayman says "the people least responsible for the increase," he's really referring to the group that does the most to make New York great and receives the least credit for it: New Jerseyans. 

…although this one's a close second.

But the building of the new 1 World Trade Center, which at least is underway after more than ten years, is just the most visible of many money holes:  

[L]et us consider the National September 11 Memorial and Museum itself, which will cost at least $700 million to build, and will have a $60 million annual operating budget. The Oklahoma City Bombing memorial cost $29.1 million to build. The World War II Memorial cost $175 million.

And despite the name, it's not really a "national" monument, as in something owned by the public. It's actually a private, not-for-profit entity.

The memorial is so expensive that the Port Authority, not known for its frugality, is demanding $150 million from it to cover its own outlays.

The top 11 officials of the September 11 Memorial and Museum make at least $190,000 a year, with four of them—Joseph Daniels, Alice Greenwald, Joan Gerner, and Cathy Blaney—making well over $300,000, tax records show. That's $2.8 million in salaries just for 11 people. And when former general counsel Frank Aiello left in 2009, he got a $180,000 severance payment.

To put it in perspective, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly makes just $210,000, and he only runs the nation's largest police agency and oversees a $4 billion budget.

Full story

Lots of recent Reason coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath: About that deadly dust; about American Muslims; about the late Christopher Hitchens. And one oldie from 2001: The history of the original World Trade Center