Gargano to Silverstein: Build or Scram

Charlie Bagli and David Dunlap frontload their analyisis of the bungled talks at Ground Zero with Charles Gargano’s press-conference statement last night:

“We have decided that there will be no continuing of negotiations with Larry Silverstein and his group until they put something on the table that is in the public interest,” Charles A. Gargano, the state’s top economic development official and the vice chairman of the Port Authority, said at a news conference yesterday.

“We fully expect Larry to begin construction on the Freedom Tower in April. This is a commitment he made to the public and to the Port Authority and we expect him to fulfill that commitment. And if he does not, then we want him to move out of the way.”

Michael Cooper’s somewhat perplexing news analyisis accompanying the piece notes something we looked at yesterday:

The governor has made the rebuilding of the site a legacy issue, only to see construction there stymied by delay after delay as his final term in office winds down.

But most of the rest of the piece analyzes how Larry Silverstein appears to have miscalculated in the development of his relationship with the governor, with potentially disastrous results for him.

So–which is it? Delays are bad news for Pataki, or bad news for Silverstein? That is, can Pataki control Ground Zero or can’t he?

postcover Gargano to Silverstein: Build or Scram
Steve Cuozzo rips everyone.

Steve Cuozzo over at the New York Post seems to have the answer.

Who wasted all of 2002 on coming up with a site plan? Pataki.

Who blew most of 2003 by meddling in the Freedom Tower’s architecture and ultimately forcing Silverstein to accept a hybrid design that very possibly could not have been built? Pataki.

Who was the man in charge during the 14 months when the NYPD said it had security concerns over the tower’s design and location, but couldn’t get anyone to return its calls? Pataki.

But, as he notes, it probably won’t matter.

Because brittle and decidedly un-telegenic Silverstein plays this game so poorly, it’s easy to lose sight of a crucial fact: He did not ask for these negotiations. He was bullied into them by a governor suddenly aware that he will likely leave office in January with nothing to show for at the World Trade Center site but a temporary PATH station.

That is, the delays are bad news for everyone.

- Tom McGeveran