God damn America.
. . . a journal of politics, popular culture, and mixed drinks. . .
[McCain] told reporters he was not sure if he would rebuild the lower 9th ward as president.
"That is why we need to go back is to have a conversation about what to do -rebuild it, tear it down, you know, whatever it is,” he said.
Her defenders, including a number of developers, said that Ms. Lancaster, 54, had been unfairly blamed for the failings of an antiquated and underfinanced department with a long history of corruption, inefficiency and missing records.
“She did a terrific job in getting the department back on track,” the developer Douglas Durst said.
. . . .
She built a considerable following in the industry she helped regulate.
“I think the world of Patricia Lancaster,” said Richard T. Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress, a trade group. “I think she accomplished an enormous amount.”
Calling her “a shining star,” he added, “If you look at her six-year record, it’s overwhelmingly positive.”
“Whitman's deliberate and misleading statements to the press, where she reassured the public that the air was safe to breathe around lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that there would be no health risk presented to those returning to those areas, shocks the conscience,” Judge Batts wrote.
“By these actions,” Batts added, Mrs. Whitman “increased, and may have in fact created, the danger” to people living and working near the trade center.
About 50,000 personal computers, 424,000 tons of concrete, 2,000 tons of asbestos, and untold tons of other toxic junk were turned to dust when the towers fell. I was walking around in a stupid surgical mask for days afterwards—I’d gag and cough when I took it off. That’s not a scientific assessment, but, apparently, neither was Christie’s.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals said that Mrs. Whitman, a former governor of New Jersey, was forced to balance competing interests after the attack. The court found that complying with instructions from the White House to hasten the return of financial workers to Wall Street as soon as possible after the World Trade Center was destroyed conflicted with Mrs. Whitman’s obligation to highlight the health risks facing people who lived, worked or went to school in Lower Manhattan.
“Whether or not Whitman’s resolution of such competing considerations was wise,” the court said, “she has not engaged in conduct that ‘shocks the conscience’ in the sense necessary to create constitutional liability for damages to thousands of people.”
The high-rise building under construction on the East Side where a crane collapse last month killed seven people did not conform with zoning regulations and was approved in error, the city’s buildings commissioner said on Thursday at a City Council hearing.
Later, in a clarification, the commissioner, Patricia J. Lancaster, told reporters that the Buildings Department should not have approved the building as proposed. But she left open the possibility that it might have been properly approved in a different configuration.
The commissioner would not say whether the high-rise, set for 43 stories at 303 East 51st Street and Second Avenue, should have been built at a different height or interior square footage.
. . . .
The approval error was discovered before the crane collapse when the developer, James P. Kennelly, asked that his plans be reviewed for compliance, Kate Lindquist, a department spokeswoman, said after the hearing.
“The zoning issues have to do with the configuration of the building and the way the tax lots are combined,” Ms. Lindquist said. A tax lot is a tract of land used by the city to determine real estate taxes.
The department did not seek to stop the project as soon as the error was discovered because buildings officials were talking to Mr. Kennelly to resolve the matter, Ms. Lindquist said. Neither she nor Ms. Lancaster would give a specific date for the discovery of the error. Calls to Mr. Kennelly were not returned.
. . . .
Under direct and often withering questioning by council members at the hearing of the Housing and Buildings Committee, called to review crane safety and inspection, Ms. Lancaster said the building under construction had been approved “not in accordance with the zoning regulation.”
“Wow,” said Councilwoman Jessica S. Lappin, whose district includes the site of the crane collapse. “You’re telling me this building should never have been approved in the first place?”
“That is correct,” Ms. Lancaster replied.
After her testimony, Ms. Lancaster sought to clarify her remarks with reporters.
In response to a question about what specifically was wrong with the Buildings Department’s clearance of the project, Ms. Lancaster replied: “It has to do with the zoning regulations, where setbacks and the height and width and the combination of zoning laws, and when you can combine them and when you can’t. It’s complex.”
Does this mean that the building should never have been approved at all? the reporter continued.
“I think the community doesn’t want the building at all,” the commissioner replied. “In fact, that property owner has property rights like anybody else who owns property and can build a building there. The question is the configuration. It’s a small adjustment in the configuration.”
Asked to elaborate on the adjustment, Ms. Lancaster said officials were “still in conversation” with the developer about that.
During the hearing, the buildings commissioner said she could not quantify the pace of building construction in New York City. Several council members said it was “out of control” and “astronomical.”
Mr. Clark Hoyt
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Dear Mr. Hoyt,
It has now been nine days since reporters at ABC News told us of “dozens of top-secret talks and meetings” held in the White House by senior Bush Administration officials to discuss in fine detail the interrogation techniques to be used on so-called “high value al Qaeda suspects,” and it has been one week since ABC told us that President Bush knew about these meetings and approved of the result—namely, the torture of certain detainees by CIA interrogators.
I make note of this timeline because, as of this writing, I am still waiting for the New York Times to report on these revelations.
At first I thought I had just missed the story. Surely the paper of record finds it newsworthy that the Vice President of the United States, The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the National Security Advisor (who is now, herself, Secretary of State) all gathered in the people’s house and there agreed to violate domestic law and international treaties—not to mention some of the principles most Americans consider central to what we are as a nation. Surely the Times thinks it noteworthy that a President that has repeatedly told your reporters and the American people that “we don’t torture” has now cavalierly admitted that we do, and did even while he claimed the contrary. Surely your paper, which only days earlier had reported on how one Justice Department Attorney had drafted a memo theoretically legitimizing torture for his bosses, came to realize with the reporting by ABC that the very highest ranking officials of the executive branch approved of torture and designed methods even before they obtained their legal “cover.”
Surely the New York Times could not have decided that none of this was worthy of some independent reporting or at least some prime space on their news pages.
At least that is what I thought.
But after a week of watchful waiting, it seems, I surely thought wrong.
A Times search of the terms “George Bush,” “George W. Bush,” and/or “President Bush” narrowed by “torture” turns up no entries after your April 2 news piece and April 4 editorial on the Yoo memorandum. Broadening the search to “Bush” and “interrogation” only adds an AP wire story about a DoJ probe of whether the advice in the March 2003 memo was even legal.
Honestly, this makes absolutely no sense to me. I cannot think of any rationale that would explain why the Times has chosen to ignore a story about a sitting President and his top officials discussing, designing, and approving methods by which to torture other human beings—no matter whether they are “high value suspects” or some other type of captive—especially when you have President Bush confirming on the record that these torture meetings took place. That is why I am now writing to you.
I would greatly appreciate an explanation from your point of view, and, of course, from the viewpoint of the editors in charge of delineating what are, to my mind, such skewed priorities.
I appreciate your attention, and look forward to your response.
New York City
“We will be holding the individuals responsible for this terrible tragedy accountable,” Ms. Lancaster said during a visit to the site. “Construction companies, owners, architects and engineers have to obey the law.”