By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
With the Bush administration also opposing legislation backed by Mayor Bloomberg that would've compensated the city for revenue lost due to 9-11, six firehouses were closed as well. That includes one on 125th Street in East Harlem, an engine company that might well have been summoned to Madison Square Garden in a multi-alarm fire. Of course, should anything catastrophic happen there during convention week, the firefighters whose brothers died on 9-11 will still be communicating on the same, reprogrammed, radios that cost lives three years ago, thanks to a president who refused to pony up the $120 million needed for new ones. Bush has also de-funded the SAFER program even after Congress passed itblocking NYC from hiring more firefightersand limited equipment purchases under the FIRE program to a puny cap of $750,000, putting NY's allocation on a par with Poland, Ohio's, with Montana getting $9 per capita for federal firefighter aid and NYC nine cents.
Delegates still mesmerized by that NY's Bravest luster might want stop at another East Harlem landmarkMount Sinai Hospitalwhere thousands of Ground Zero rescue workers are still being screened for the lingering effects of their misplaced faith in post9-11 health advisories emanating from Bush's White Housescripted EPA. Though the first Bush-Cheney commercial featured a flag-draped coffin carried through Ground Zero by firefighters, the administration actually fought the paltry $90 million allocation for Mount Sinai and firefighter screening programs, as if it still believed its own altered press releases about that historic toxic cloud.
Indeed, conventioneers taking a swing by GZ should be sure to visit Battery Park City or Independence Plaza and hear what the 20,000 residents of Lower Manhattan have to say about a White House that thought they or their buildings' owners should clean up the asbestos aftermath on their own. They could even drop in at EPA's NY office just a few blocks away at 290 Broadwaywhich got a partial super-vacuuming from emergency government crews while the agency decided that virtually no one else who worked or lived downtown was entitled to one.
GOPers who arrive by train, of course, will be taking precisely the same risks passengers did before 9-11: no bag searches, no bridge, tunnel, or even significant station security boosts, with the proposed Bush budget blasting Amtrak and other mass-transit funding like a time bomb. If Tom DeLay had achieved his cruise ship dream-hotel for delegates, they might actually have seen cargo ships pulling into port virtually as insecure as pre9-11, with a lesser percent of containers inspected than speeders stopped on the Jersey Turnpike. In fact, delegates from Cheney's Wyoming, for example, will have reason to be jittery, leaving a state that gets $40 per capita in homeland security funding to visit a state that gets $10, especially since they will have entered a twilight zone on orange alert for the last 1,080 days or so.
When this attacked city was selected to host the convention way back in January 2003, Bush might have believed he'd come here as a hero, with bin Laden's head in tow, a new tower rising, $20 billion in thank-you's awaiting, and a landslide on the way, beginning in NY. Instead, along the same westside route where Bush was cheered lustily on September 14, 2001, protesters may gather by the hundreds of thousands, a revolution in receptions marking the ugly shift in national spirit that's infected Bush's years. A president who came then to our battlefield as a unifier is returning as a userturning our city into a carnival rationale for his war and re-election.
The Ten Worst Ways Bush Has Hurt Us
1 Will any convention speaker dare mention the name of Osama bin Laden? What ever happened to Bush's cowboy threat to "smoke 'em" out? Osama, Omar, and Ayman al-Zawhiri became instant and explicit "Wanted Dead or Alive" Bush targets after 9-11, but when the Pentagon came up with a card deck of the hunted, the faces were all Iraqi. The RNC is still replaying the president's bullhorned GZ promise that "the people who knocked down these buildings" would "hear all of us soon," and the president and wife are even now airing a commercial that vows to bring "an enemy to justice before they hurt us again." Who knew when Bush was strapping on that holster three years ago that High Noon would require a second term? Or is Jeb going to get 'em after 2008?