Archive for July 2008

Senator Barack Obama: Religion in the Public Square is OK – By George J. Marlin

July 23, 2008

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing website on July 23, 2008.

Treadmill to Oblivion – By George J. Marlin

July 20, 2008

This article I wrote appears in the New York Post on July 20, 2008.

Bring on the Feds – By George J. Marlin

July 9, 2008

This article I wrote appears in the New York Post on July 9, 2008.

John F. Kennedy: Charm or Character? – By George J. Marlin

July 9, 2008

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing website.

The Myth of the Port Authority – By George J. Marlin

July 1, 2008

After years of Ground Zero blunders, PA Executive Director Chris Ward’s admission that the Agency’s projected rebuilding schedules and cost estimates are delusional should come as no surprise to New Yorkers.

Pointing one finger of blame at former Governor George Pataki is wholly justified. Pataki—who governed by press release—did not possess the vision, skills or energy to be the redevelopment overseer. His disengaged, ceremonial approach to management just couldn’t fly and the results proved it.

Another finger, however, must be pointed at the Port Authority. In the post-9/11 period, to regain control of the 16-acre Ground Zero from Larry Silverstein, PA officials sowed bureaucratic chaos. For 16 months they stonewalled NYPD requests to review security data. And it took more than 6 years for the PA to build the east bathtub slurry wall, the necessary first step in constructing the foundation for Towers 2, 3, and 4 and the PATH Station. Former PA Executive Director Tony Shorris’s duplicity in hiding the true status of the mess deserves his share of the blame.

Pataki, desperate to star at groundbreaking ceremonies, rewarded, in May 2006, PA shortsightedness and obstructionism by agreeing to turn the management of the Freedom Tower over to the Agency.

The Ward Report to Governor Paterson proves the PA once again conned New Yorkers. Their boast two years ago that only they could restore sanity to the redevelopment of lower Manhattan, was a sham. Add Ground Zero to this list of PA screw-ups:

  • World Trade Center construction, whose original 1966 estimated cost was $355 million, came in at over $900 million. To make this commercial real estate “white elephant” economically viable, New York State bailed out the PA by becoming the primary tenant.
  • The Newark Airport monorail opened two years behind schedule in 1996 with cost overruns hitting 9 figures. The $350 million, 2-mile system that connects airport terminals and parking lots was the most expensive per mile rail project in recent history.
  • The light rail system connecting JFK to LIRR’s Jamaica Station, originally estimated at $1 billion, came in late and had huge cost overruns.
  • The PA’s JFK 2000 Project, which commenced in the early 1990s, spent $130 million on improvement studies that were never implemented. They wasted tens of millions on the JFK “tunnel to nowhere.”
  • The Automated Guideway Transit project, a high-tech proposal linking LaGuardia and Kennedy to Manhattan, was abandoned in 1994 when projected construction costs jumped from $2 billion to $4 billion. Thirty-one million dollars was wasted in planning.

The Agency also squandered tens of millions of commuters’ hard-earned dollars on these unsuccessful projects: Brooklyn fishport, Yonkers, Bathgate and Elizabeth industrial parks and the Newark legal and communication office building.

And then there’s the money losing facilities: PATH Subway, PA Bus Terminals, Marine terminals, Journal Square Transportation Center—all subsidized by excessive tolls at bridges and tunnels and excessive fees at the region’s airports.

The PA’s historic record of bureaucratic arrogance, waste, mishaps and ineptitude demolishes their claim that only they have the professional planning expertise to pull off huge projects.

Thanks to the PA, the pit in lower Manhattan is a national embarrassment. And anyone who suggests they should be given greater oversight responsibility, over say the Moynihan Station, should get their head examined.