“The greatest challenge to date is dealing with [changing] political leadership. We have dealt with four governors of the State of New York, five governors of the State of New Jersey since 9/11… Every time a political leader comes into office, he wants to stop and look and examine. That does not bring certainty, that does not bring predictability, that doesn’t give you a feeling of great comfort when everything you do is based upon a timeline that has very distinct requirements for completion of certain phases of a project. You can’t stop and say, “Stop everything, I want to take a look,” and shift gears. ‘Cause you got billions of dollars worth of contracts out there. To stop is horrendous. Sometimes it’s difficult for people who are not business people – people who have not been involved in this kind of project to appreciate the magnitude of lead time that’s required to order steel, to order elevators, to order curtain wall, to make design decisions – huge amounts of time. To come in after the fact, a year later or two years later, and say, “Stop, I want to look at everything,” becomes hugely problematic.
How does working with effective political leaders help you on the development side?
A person who understands the need to get the job done, to move the process forward, to get it finished and get it built. ‘Cause he wants to see this built in his lifetime, as do I want to see it built in my lifetime, as the mayor wants to see it in his lifetime.”
In 2006, Marketplace radio gave a similar account of the difficulty of dealing with unions when construction delays first began. “[T]he managing director of the General Contractors Assn. of New York is quoted as saying that the basic pay scale for these [striking] operating engineers is between $72 and $82.65 an hour. Of course, they don’t always work a lot of hours, if they get rained out or whatever. Well, the union has rejected a five-year contract with a 6 percent increase per year. The contractors say some of those workers do little more than turn lights on and off. The union has said that it wants to make sure that members who lose jobs get phased out and get adequate retraining.”
Frankly, I’m disgusted with the way the reconstruction of the World Trade Center has manifested. (Don’t even get me started on the design.) What is more saddening than the lack of monument, though, is the fact that I know we can do better.
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