By Rita Nissan
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
As investigators continue to look into the deadly fire at the former Deutsche Bank building two weekends ago, there is shifting blame for the mess. NY1 Political reporter Rita Nissan filed the following report on the latest chapter in finger pointing.
There's lots of blame to go around. Democrats and Republicans are pointing fingers at each other for why the Deutsche Bank building was even still standing.
Democrats pounced on former Governor George Pataki. The building stood on his watch for five years after it was crippled in the September 11th terrorist attacks.
"You couldn't meet with them. They wouldn't talk to you,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “They totally didn't care. Everything they did was about their own politics."
The remarks from Stringer echoed what a fellow top Democrat said Monday. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was quoted criticizing Pataki, but a day later he said was not interested in rehashing fights with his former sparring partner.
“What’s important is we go forward,” said Silver.
The GOP, meanwhile, shot at Pataki's successor. The Senate's number two Republican says Governor Eliot Spitzer's point man for rebuilding Lower Manhattan, Avi Schick, has been more focused on good public relations for his boss, than on tearing down the contaminated structure.
“He said that everything would change on day one, and now we’re almost nine months into his administration and nothing changed,” said State Senator Dean Skelos.
Republicans have not been shy about carping on the governor. He's currently embroiled in an ethics scandal. But with the fire near Ground Zero still fresh, the GOP has stayed away from casting blame, although a state agency under Spitzer owns the building.
Skelos changed that; he says days before the fire, Schick took The New York Times on a tour of the building to show how well the demolition was going.
“The issue is not about pointing fingers, blaming,” said Skelos. “[It’s about] getting to the truth.”
Not surprisingly, Democrats quickly came to Schick's defense. They say he and Spitzer have been more involved than the previous administration.
Speaker Silver has close ties to Schick. Although he bit his tongue about Pataki, others were not shy.
“Over the past years, the community board, the elected officials, my office, we wrote numerous letters expressing concern about the demolition of this building, and the environmental consequences,” said State Senator Martin Connor. “We wrote letters saying can one person be in charge. Who’s really in charge? Most of us didn’t get responses.”
A spokesperson for Pataki responded, "It would be inappropriate given the gravity of the situation to dignify these unfortunate misguided comments, other than to reiterate Governor Pataki's profound condolences to the families of our lost heroes."