Juvenile politicians delay opening of Ground Zero Museum
New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo are in a spitting contest over who will be responsible for funding and operating the 9/11 museum and memorial.
The project is now in limbo and might not even be ready by next year's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The first hint of tensions occurred after the 10th anniversary commemoration, when reports surfaced that Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Christie were annoyed at Mr. Bloomberg and the foundation over restrictions on access to the memorial and the ceremony. The reports were later denied by aides to the two governors.
The dispute entered a new stage in June with a struggle over who would control the overall memorial.
The conflict over what many New Yorkers regard as a hallowed site carries political risks for the mayor and the governor.
Mr. Bloomberg has raised tens of millions of dollars for the museum and has contributed $15 million of his own money, but he may leave office at the end of 2013 with a legacy project in disarray. And Mr. Cuomo may be blamed for the standstill as talk of political dysfunction and a failed museum dominates news media coverage of the 11th anniversary.
The foundation, which has collected $450 million in private donations, estimates that it will take another year of construction work to complete the museum and two or three more months to install the exhibits and prepare for an opening.
Asked to explain the reasons for the impasse, Mr. Bloomberg's aides would say only that negotiations were continuing.
"The delay is hugely disappointing to family members of victims and the many stakeholders who have worked hard to curate the museum," said Julie Wood, a Bloomberg spokeswoman. "But we are confident that the finished product will be the definitive historical accounting of that terrible day."
Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said, "They are working through complex financial and economic issues, but we are cautiously optimistic" about an agreement.
"They really ought to sit down in a room and look at each other. It can't be solved with e-mails," said Board member Ira Millstein. Amen.
The real problem is there are too many politicians involved - in this case, more than one is too many. Such titanic egos as Bloomberg and Cuomo (with Christie playing junior partner to Cuomo's Port Authority - something all New Jersey governors have resented) need to be massaged. Both politicians with national ambitions don't want to be caught looking like a chump in these negotiations.
Meanwhile, the memorial and museum lays dormant and the families of the fallen suffer.