If the 9/11 Memorial is supposed to be a “National Memorial” which deserves federal funding, then it is obligated to operate with fiscal responsibility and honor.
Bravo to the 911 family members who are taking on the elitist corruptocrats commanding the finances and critical decision-making of the 911 Memorial and Museum, as if it were their own personal fiefdom. The family members are calling for their removal and for the 911 Memorial Museum to be placed under the National Park Service, as are all other national memorials. The project has been rife with controversy and fiscal mismanagement under the current leadership.
Many 9/11 families have advocated for the honorable and respectful interment of unidentified 9/11 human remains at Ground Zero -- but NOT in a Museum. Nearly a decade ago, families were assured that these remains would be located in a "separate and distinct repository - separate from any Museum or Visitor Center." Family groups were promised this by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) in writing in 2003, via the "WTC Memorial Guidelines" written by the Family Advisory Council and agreed to by the LMDC. At that time, the small number of group leaders who met with the LMDC could never have imagined that the honorable and respectful interment promised would result in a shell game that plans to place 9,000 unidentified remains 70 feet (7 stories) below ground in a dangerous, distasteful and dishonorable manner.
9/11 family members were faced with the adamant refusal of Joe Daniels, President & CEO of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation (9/11MM), to survey WTC family members in order to ask them for permission to put their loved ones' remains in a museum. WTC families filed a lawsuit, seeking to force the City of New York to release the names of the 2,749 family members whose loved ones died on 9/11, for the purpose of notifying and seeking the input of the families regarding the City’s and the 9/11MM’s plan.
For this dereliction of duty 9/11MM officials have been remunerated handsomely. Daniels pocketed $371,307. Museum director Alice Greenwald made $351,000, and capital planning Vice President Joan Gerner soaked up $337,143 before leaving last spring. Development director Cathy Blaney raked in $322,292. The full-time foundation employee also worked last year as a fund-raiser for Gov. Cuomo's election campaign.
The money to pay the $5.3 million in compensation for the foundation's 87 staffers in 2009 came from private donations -- hundreds of millions were raised in a Herculean grass-roots effort to honor the 2,974 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Where is that money?
9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims Renew Call for National Park Service to Administer and Operate 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero
In a June 9th, 2012 New York Times article ("In Latest Phase of Ground Zero Building Dispute, a New Call for Oversight" by Charles V.Bagli) the disastrous financial condition of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was highlighted. In light of this information, 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims reiterates our call for the National Parks Service to assume complete control of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. (We first issued this request February 3, 2012). The National Park Service operates numerous national memorials throughout the US, including the Shanksville, PA Flight 93 Memorial. It is the only federal organization which can bring transparency, effective management, and fiscal responsibility to “America’s Memorial” which has developed into a memorial-industrial -complex characterized by gross mismanagement, bloated salaries, and out- of- control spending.
The dysfunctional Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was reportedly owed $300 million from the private 9/11 memorial museum foundation, was able to receive only a “commitment in which the foundation agreed to pay the Port Authority roughly $50 million over many years." We must ask: “What happened to the remaining $250 million? Why are toll payers and the public being expected to pick up the tab for the cost overruns by a private foundation? If the 9/11 memorial museum foundation is so adept at fundraising, why can't they pay their bills on time and in full? Why didn't they have the foresight to see that a $1.3 billion enterprise is not appropriate, now or ever?
Shortly after the tenth anniversary of 9/11 this past year, bills were introduced into the US Senate and House of Representatives to provide an annual $20 million payout to the private foundation representing the 9/11 Memorial and Museum - with no strings attached! These Congressional bills would allow the 9/11 foundation (with its incredibly highly paid staff & golden parachute policy) to continue to run the memorial and museum, and the federal government & taxpayers would essentially be responsible for the mortgage into future decades. What’s wrong with this picture?
Many 9/11 families are opposed to the current version of this bill – they do not feel the federal government should pay for an enormously expensive memorial and museum in which the federal government – as well as the families of the victims - had virtually no role in the burgeoning $1.3 billion design and construction. Taking ownership of the memorial & museum and annually funding a large portion of its annual $60 million annual operating costs – with no controls whatsoever - will be a permanent albatross around the neck of the American taxpayer unless the highly respected and experienced stewardship of the National Parks Service is mandated.
If the 9/11 Memorial is supposed to be a “National Memorial” which deserves federal funding, then it is obligated to operate with fiscal responsibility and honor. It should be given the respect, patriotism, budgetary responsibility and time-honored stewardship of the National Park Service. The lives and deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and the American public who honor them deserve nothing less.
Chief Jim Riches, FDNY(ret.)
Father of FF Jimmy Riches, WTC/911
Chairman, 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims
Russell & Joyce Mercer, Parents of FF Scott Kopytko WTC/911
Rosaleen Tallon, Sister of FF Sean Tallon WTC/911
Rosemary Cain, Mother of FF George Cain WTC/911
Maureen and Al Santora, Parents of FF Christopher Santora WTC/911
Jim McCaffrey, Brother in law of Chief Orio Palmer, WTC/911
Eileen Walsh , Mother of FF Michael Brennan, WTC/911
Al and Sally Regenhard, Parents of FF Christian Regenhard, WTC/911