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Candidate Criticizes the Mayor for the Delays at Ground Zero
By Nicholas Confessore, New York Times, May 8, 2005

Escalating his criticism of delays in the reconstruction of ground zero, Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker and a Democratic candidate for mayor, is challenging Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to push for greater control over the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.

In an interview to be shown today on the WABC program "Eyewitness News Up Close With Diana Williams," Mr. Miller described the delays - caused in part by recent requests from the Police Department that the planned Freedom Tower be redesigned to higher security standards - as a "crisis" caused by having "too many cooks in this kitchen."

"The problem right now is that you and I are debating 'Is it the governor? Is it the mayor?' " he said, according to a transcript that Mr. Miller's campaign provided to The New York Times. "In the end, things don't work that way. When you have to wonder who is it that's really in charge, nobody is in charge. If the mayor took charge, then we could actually really move things forward."

In a statement released yesterday, the speaker urged Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, to demand a majority of seats on the board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the group created to plan and coordinate the rebuilding of the areas hardest hit by the Sept. 11 attacks. He also urged the mayor to seek direct control over the World Trade Center site.

The mayor and Gov. George E. Pataki are empowered to appoint eight members each to the 16-member governing board of the development corporation, which the governor pushed to create after Sept. 11. A spokesman for Mr. Miller said that reapportioning the seats allocated to the mayor would require negotiations with the governor to change the corporation's charter.

But neither the mayor nor the governor appear interested in such a change. Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pataki, said, "The governor and the mayor are partners in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site and Lower Manhattan." She described Mr. Miller's proposal as "a sad attempt by a political opportunist who is desperate to find some relevance."

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the mayor, said that Mr. Miller's proposal "is so unrealistic that it doesn't merit a response."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


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