More than 25 million reasons to drop random name listing
Cantor Fitzgerald C.E.O. Howard Lutnick and Mayor Bloomberg each had something right to say about the World Trade Center memorial last week.
Lutnick, who lost 658 co-workers on Sept. 11, 2001 including his brother, told the Daily News he was offering $25 million to build the memorial, conditioned on officials dropping the idea of a random listing of names, and grouping them together by things like firm, firehouse or flight number.
Bloomberg, who donated $10 million of his own money to the W.T.C. Memorial Foundation unconditionally, said money will not be allowed to dictate how the names are listed.
We agree. The reason to drop the random listing is not because it will make it easier to finance. The reason to do it is because it’s the right thing to do.
If Lutnick had suggested something that was opposed by even a small block of family members, we would join what would undoubtedly be a long line of critics taking him to task. But there is widespread opposition to the random listing. The leaders of 32 family groups signed a document two years ago calling for the change.
Lutnick and other relatives of course feel impatient. Who wouldn’t? There appears to be no constituency for a random listing and we continue to scratch our heads as to why it is taking so long for officials to make it history.
The mayor did speak enthusiastically about the random listing a few years ago, but that was before it was clear how much opposition there was, and we don’t see that as an obstacle now that Bloomberg is the new chairperson of the memorial foundation. He’s a practical man and certainly understands how foolish it would be to force a plan that would sabotage his fundraising effort.
As we said in July, each name will be the only personal part of the memorial for each family, and these relatives must be given the power to take the lead in figuring out how best to list the names. We agree with many of them who have said groupings will help convey more of the history of 9/11. The memorial museum will and should charge admission and that makes it more important that the free, public memorial tells future generations something about what happened.
Dropping the random listing will not end the debate, but will allow for a productive, inclusive discussion about how to group the names and what information, such as age and W.T.C. floor number, should be included with the company name. We also think it is essential that each family be given the right not to be listed in a particular group.
As the W.T.C. Memorial Foundation and family members get into the details about name groupings and information, there are likely to be more disputes. The foundation must make it clear that money will not influence these decisions. Bloomberg is leading the foundation so we don’t worry about that. Organization officials should look past Lutnick’s check book, but listen to his words as well as to the thousands of other relatives who agree with him.