Volume 73, Number 34 | December 24 - 30, 2003

Letter from the editor

War on terrormisses target
Upon the capture of former brutal Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein just over a week ago, President Bush proclaimed that now “America is a safer country.” Why then do we find ourselves for the fifth time since 9/11 in a state of high alert of a terrorist attack?

The real enemy behind the 9/11 attacks is still at large. It’s unknown if Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s fanatical leader, is dead or in hiding along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. What is horribly clear, though, is his terror apparatus remains, as witnessed by the deadly series of bombings since 9/11, including in Bali, Kenya and Saudi Arabia.

It was exhilarating to see Saddam dragged from his spider hole. It means he can never reinstate his reign of terror and perhaps, as well, that his supporters will eventually end their guerrilla attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi targets. Of course, the daunting task of rebuilding a hopefully democratic Iraq remains. Yet, the $100 billion-plus Bush is pouring into Iraq would be much better spent if used to stabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan and root out Al Qaeda.

The reasons for going after Saddam evaporated — no weapons of mass destruction; no 9/11 connection; no uranium from Niger. Meanwhile, the connection between Al Qaeda, 9/11 and terror is as plain as the fact that 3,000 people were killed in the World Trade Center.

Now that we’ve caught Saddam, let’s put the focus where it should have been all along: catching Osama bin Laden and wiping out Al Qaeda.

Trust must openi ts books to view
The Assembly committee hearings last week on the Hudson River Park Trust brought into focus serious concerns about the Trust that have festered for some time — lack of finances and lack of openness.

It’s clear the park needs at least another $200 million. As the Trust has been using up the $200 million allocated a decade ago by former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Mayor David Dinkins, anxiety has grown there won’t be any left to complete the job. We need to hear from the Trust, Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg. To use a movie slogan: “Show us the money.”

Recent instances have highlighted the Trust’s lack of openness, most notably the secretive Pier 40 development process and the surprise Village ice-skating rink plan.

More to the point, the Trust needs to give a full accounting of its financial plan, from its operating budget to its long-range view on how much revenue each “commercial node” pier in the park will generate for the Trust. Our elected officials have tried in vain to obtain this information, which, for example, would help clarify whether a mega-development with big-box stores is really needed on Pier 40.

The Trust must make its finances public, as other state and city agencies do. The park needs $200 million more. The Trust must solicit more public review for plans and park events and be less secretive. None of this is a secret.


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