The Insider series seems to have struck a chord. I’ve received a lot of positive and some negative feedback, including word from someone in the Fourth Estate who thinks that we might be developing a new form of journalism. I really don’t know about that, but what pleases me is that this seems to be the start of a more open dialogue. And in this regard, I have another installment in the series, this time from a new insider who wants to comment on our most recent post.
As always, I make the same disclaimer to readers: I can’t vouch for the veracity of the insider’s account, but I do believe the individual’s perspective is worthy of consideration. And if s/he has gotten something wrong that you have personal knowledge of let me know and I’ll post your comments as well.
We’ll go back to the beginning of the alphabet and call this new individual Insider A but after this entry all insider’s will be called Insider X. His account is as follows:
“Insider Z makes some valid points about the Cuomo people, but what’s missing is the background on why their relationship with Ward soured. It’s a heck of a story that involves the proposed Greek Church at Ground Zero.”
Some background is needed here: There was a small Greek Church on the ground of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. It was destroyed in the terrorist attack. The church’s leadership subsequently sought to rebuild the facility. However, their plans were quite controversial. They wanted to build a much larger church and do so at a sensitive site. Now back to the insider’s account.
“They (the Greeks) brought their plans to Spitzer, who rejected them, and they brought their plans to Paterson, who also rejected them. With all due respect to the Greeks, it was a boondoggle. It adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the construction costs and delays the completion of the overall project.”
“All of the development pros who looked at this plan were against it, but somebody convinced Cuomo and his staff to do it.”
More background: The insider said that allegedly (I’m following Fred’s advice and inserting allegedly when I don’t have personal knowledge or it’s not a direct quote) Dennis Meheil played a key role in helping to convince Cuomo to embrace the project. Meheil is a wealthy businessman who has long been involved in Democratic politics in New York. He was a contributor to the Cuomo campaign and now serves on the board of the Empire State Development Corp. He is a person of Greek heritage.
“Meheil got (top Cuomo aide) Howard Glazer and (former Cuomo ESDC aide and now Ward’s successor as MTA chief) Pat Foye to pressure Ward to move forward with the project. Ward didn’t want to do it. There was a lot of screaming and swearing. Mostly it was Glazer yelling at Ward.”
“Nobody acquitted themselves well in this. The Cuomo people were awful, and Ward was stubborn and difficult. None of the key players are sympathetic figures. And nobody involved in the redevelopment thinks there’ll be a good outcome.”
My thanks to Insider A for offering this account. As always, I make the same disclaimer to readers: I can’t vouch for the veracity of the insider’s account, but I do believe the individual’s perspective is worthy of consideration.
This space is always open to those who offer reasoned views on public policy matters.