Friday: 9/11 Money Goes To Texan Custard and Porno; Plus Piano and the Hiltons

  • Where did the $21.4 billion for New York’s post-9/11 aid go? For starters, $635,000 marked for helping “small businesses directly impacted by the terror attacks” wound up with a frozen custard business in Texas. And then there’s lucky young Gregg Brown, who was paid $300,000 to take photos of the city: he was allowed to keep the copyrights, using the material in a “documentary that juxtaposed topless women talking about their breasts with images of the smoldering twin tower ruins.” Ever the gentleman, regional FEMA head Joe Picciano says: “Admittedly, we probably should have had constraints… The attempt was good. We made a mistake.” (NY Daily News)
  • Is the government always so cutely negligent? The NYC Housing Authority has allowed 2,100 apartments to stay vacant for around three years–while 140,000 local families waited for homes. $4 million in rent would have been collected by the NYCHA “if it had cut the average [apartment vacancy time] by just 20 percent,” which would have helped dent its $168 million deficit. (Instead, the Housing Authority has proposed its biggest rent hike in nearly two decades). (New York Times)
  • More comfortingly: The final beam of the New York Times Building (“50% leased”!) was hoisted onto the top of Renzo Piano’s 52-story steel frame. The beam was autographed by Forest City Ratner and NYT executives, which means it is indeed the luckiest little beam in all the land. (Globe St.)
  • New York‘s perfect new hotel feature covers all the bases: the “West Coast dealmaker friend who needs a killer lobby,” the “23-year-old cousin and her best friend who came to party,” and the “extremely cool newlywed friends.” But most importantly: “the midwestern relatives who want to be in tourist central.” (New York)
  • That lovable Hilton family is at it again. Their Waldorf Astoria and NY Hilton are still fighting the hotel workers union over problems like “back pay and worker safety issues involving asbestos.” Contract talks were due to expire tonight, though they have been extended yet again. When will the workers learn? You can’t beat the Hiltons. (Crain’s)
  • If The Sun says Clinton Hill is “soaring,” then the neighborhood must already be dead. Seriously, though: kudos to the paper for going out on its white-man limb and sourcing a “hip, young African-American.” (Sun)
  • - Max Abelson