Volume 16, Number 29 | December 16-22, 2003


Nadler and Maloney feud over W.T.C. bill

By Josh Rogers

A proposed bill by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney about the World Trade Center memorial has angered Downtown leaders and reignited her rivalry with U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who accused his fellow Democrat of “invading my district.”

The bill would authorize a study to see whether it is feasible to preserve the bedrock area where the Twin Towers once stood. If the area was subsequently landmarked before construction on the memorial began, the bill’s detractors say it would lead to delays, particularly since none of the eight possible designs announced in November preserve the entire footprint bedrock area. Opponents of the bill include Kevin Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Madelyn Wils, chairperson of Community Board 1, and Nadler – all of whom lashed out against the Maloney bill after it was announced Nov. 17.

Nadler, whose district includes all of the neighborhoods surrounding the W.T.C. site, said Maloney should have consulted him about making changes to the bill prior to its introduction. Before 2002, Nadler said he and the rest of the New York delegation were worried that redistricting could pit incumbents against each other, and he thinks Maloney would often propose measures involving Lower Manhattan in case her district were extended farther Downtown.

“I understood that,” Nadler said in a telephone interview. “I didn’t appreciate it, but I understood it. But now that the election is over, she should stop. She’s like a Japanese soldier still fighting on a desert island in 1950.”

Nadler suggested he might consider bringing up Maloney votes that were unlikely to go over well in her liberal district. “I may have to start going to local political clubs and start talking about who voted for the war and the Patriot Act,” Nadler said.

Maloney was clearly bothered by the criticism from Nadler, although she was reluctant to criticize him publicly. “It had nothing to do with redistricting,” she said. She also pointed to her record fighting for more post-9/11 aid for Downtown businesses and securing $80 million for the city’s school system as compensation for Sept. 11-related programs.

After the telephone interview, her spokesperson e-mailed a prepared statement saying in part that, “Jerry is a good friend. There are times we all get tense…. I look forward to working with him in the future to continue to help New York. New York’s recovery and rebuilding after 9/11 is an enormous task that we have all worked on together, by necessity.”

Regarding her bill, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Maloney said: “It doesn’t delay the process at all. It just assesses the historic value of the footprints.”

She said she still supports Nadler’s bill to designate the memorial a national monument after it is constructed and which would require the federal government to pay for half the construction and all of the maintenance costs.

John Whitehead, chairperson of the L.M.D.C., has been named by Gov. Pataki to head a committee to raise private money to build the memorial. Nadler said he has not yet looked for Republican support for his bill but that Rampe, the L.M.D.C.’s president, was supportive of the general idea.

When Rampe was asked to comment about the memorial plans in general, he took the opportunity to say that Maloney’s bill would lead to a federal review panel, which would delay the memorial’s construction.

Anthony Gardner, whose brother was killed in the W.T.C., said he went to Maloney for support for the bill because Nadler had made it clear he opposed it. “He didn’t support us,” said Gardner. “He wasn’t receptive to what we had been telling him…. Congresswoman Maloney had a lot of family members in her district.”

He said Maloney’s bill is a good “precursor” to Nadler’s and the goal of the study is to document all of the original remnants of the W.T.C. and create political pressure to keep them.

“They’re going to be deemed too valuable to sacrifice,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure all of the authentic components are preserved for all Americans and for future generations.”

The idea of a study also angered Wils, who at the November C.B. 1 meeting said in her view, “the bill was about creating a cemetery at ground zero….

“It was done without any discussion with the community… I think it’s astonishingly arrogant.”

She asked one of Nadler’s aides “to put up a bill for her district and see how she reacts.”

Then Wils asked Assemblymember Glick for help opposing Maloney.

“Yeah we’re pretty annoyed,” Glick told Wils.



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