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6/13/08 Affairs and Appointments

6/13/08 Affairs and Appointments

New York City

New York State

Public Hearings

Quotes of the Week

I am not, and will not be, a candidate for governor of the state of New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, addressing speculation about his post-Mayoral plans.

I don’t know if I have a preference so much as I would like to lead the consensus on it.

Governor David A. Paterson, explaining his strategy for leading negotiations to reform New York City Off-Track Betting (NYC OTB).

We have zero tolerance for any corruption anywhere in City government, and when corruption appears in a public safety agency like the Department of Buildings, it is all the more deplorable. The Department of Buildings has made enormous strides in rooting out corruption over the past six years, but this case underscores that there remains more work to do. We are fully committed to eliminating all traces of the corrupt culture that long infiltrated the construction process, and I commend the Department of Investigation for its stellar work in this case. The arrest of this inspector is a good reminder to any City employee – or any private company – that bribery and fraud will be discovered and punished to the full extent of the law.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commenting on the arrest on bribery charges of James Delayo, acting chief inspector for the Cranes and Derricks Unit at the city Department of Buildings.

Studies have shown that as many as 15 percent of those in the criminal justice system are persons with serious mental illness. The series of improvements we are announcing today will use the leverage of the criminal justice system to get these individuals the treatment they need, reducing the risk to public safety. These changes will allow us to identify those with serious mental illnesses at critical stages, such as when they call 911, appear in a courtroom, or meet with probation officers.

John Feinblatt, Mayor Bloomberg’s Criminal Justice Coordinator, supporting recommendations from the joint NYS/NYC Mental Health-Criminal Justice Panel.

Tool of the Week: Con Edison Storm Center

Few hardships can make City dwellers feel as helpless as during a power outage.  Beyond having no lights, affected households usually also are in the dark about when the power will come back on. 

Fortunately, Consolidated Edison’s website now enables powerless customers to at least see how long their misfortune will last.  The Con Edison Storm Center gives updates every 30 minutes on which neighborhoods and how many customers are without power, the cause of the power failure, and the estimate time until the power will be restored.  As of 11:30 a.m. Friday morning, there were 38 active outages affecting 70 customers, mostly in Westchester (“customers” referring not to individuals but to Con Ed accounts).

The Con Ed Storm Center determines the number of affected customers by collecting information called in by customers, emergency workers and Con Edison employees; an algorithm then extrapolates from these complaints how many customers are affected.

But for the puns, we would commend the Con Ed Storm Center as an enlightened innovation.  As an instrument to empower customers, the Storm Center also suffers one expected and unavoidable limitation: internet updates are of no use to people who cannot turn on their computers.

See the Con Edison Storm Center here; read a New York Times article on the subject here.


Anthony Como, the Queens County Board of Elections commissioner, will represent the 30 district in the City Council after winning a special June 3 election to replace resigning Council Member Dennis Gallagher.  Candidate Elizabeth Crowley conceded to Mr. Como this Wednesday after counting of additional paper ballots left her behind by 38 votes.

Creating institutional responsibility within the Mayor’s office for another component of PlaNYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) to expedite the cleanup of contaminated brownfield sites throughout New York City.

Mayor Bloomberg appointed Daniel Walsh to serve as OER director. 

Mayor Bloomberg appointed Felix Ciampa to the board of directors of the Housing Development Corporation.  Mr. Ciampa is chief of staff to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber.  

Governor David A. Paterson this week appointed 13 members to the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Financing.  To be chaired by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch, the Commission is charged with recommending strategies to fund MTA capital projects and operating needs over the next ten years.  In introducing his selection, Governor Paterson stressed that the MTA’s plans to expand its system and repair core infrastructure depend on securing adequate financing. The list of people who have agreed to serve on the Commission includes:

  • Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director and CEO of the MTA
  • Laura L. Anglin, New York State Budget Director
  • Mark Page, director of the New York City Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
  • Denis Hughes,President of the New York State AFL-CIO.
  • Father Joseph McShane, President of Fordham University.
  • Robert B. Catell, Chairman of National Grid, U.S.  
  • Kim Paparello Vaccari, Managing Director of the Transportation Group at Banc of America Securities
  • Steven Polan, partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
  • Peter Goldmark, director of the Climate and Air program for the Environmental Defense Fund
  • Douglas Durst, Chairman of the The Durst Organization
  • Mysore L. Nagaraja, former President of MTA Capital Construction and former Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer at NYCT
  • Kevin Burke, Chairman of the Board of Con Edison and Con Edison of New York
  • Bernard Beal, Founder and CEO of M.R. Beal & Co., the oldest continuously operating African American-owned investment bank in the country

Read about Governor Paterson’s appointments to the Ravitch Commission here.

Richard Rifkin has resigned as Special Counsel to the Governor’s Office, a post he has held since January 1, 2007.  Mr. Rifkin is leaving to become Special Counsel for the New York State Bar Association.  Read Governor Paterson’s commendation for Mr. Rifkin here.

Governor Paterson this week appointed Elizabeth B. Hubbard to the Commission on Judicial Conduct (members of this Commission do not receive a salary).
Governor Paterson this week made the following nominations, all of which require Senate confirmation (read the Governor’s press release here):

Joseph B. Crangle and Mary Ross have been nominated as Members of the State Board of Parole.  Mr. Crangle is currently an Assistant Court Analyst with the New York State Office of Court Administration; Ms Ross is currently a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Queens, New York. Salaries for Members of the Parole Board are set at $101,600.

Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey has been nominated as a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Dr. Chapey is a professor of psychology at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York (“KCC/CUNY”).  As a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Board, Dr. Chapey will receive a set salary of $90,800.

Jeanique Greene has been nominated as a Member of the State Liquor Authority. Ms. Greene is currently a Senior Court Analyst with the Office of Court Administration focusing on continuing legal education.  As a Member of the State Liquor Authority, Ms. Greene will receive a set salary of $90,800.

Bloomberg Rules Out a Run for Governor – Mayor’s Stated Future Lies in Philanthropy

From the New York Sun:

Signaling that he may be pursuing a future in philanthropy instead of politics, Mayor Bloomberg issued one of his strongest denials yet about a possible run for governor, while handing over more money than ever to a New York foundation to which he sends anonymous donations each year.

Using language similar to that which he relied on in February to end months of speculation that he would run for president as an independent candidate, Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday: “I am not, and will not be, a candidate for governor of the state of New York.”

Continue here to finish Grace Rauh’s New York Sun article about Mayor Bloomberg’s flat denial of Gubernatorial ambitions.

Deputy Mayor Lieber Expresses Openness to Port Authority Control of Moynihan Station

“The first thing we do like about the Port Authority is their money.”

So said Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum this Thursday; his reference was to the $2 billion that the bi-state agency could invest in a new train station across 8th Avenue from Penn Station.  This new facility would be part of the larger Moynihan Station project that also involves a renovation of Penn Station and new office towers.

Aside form control of Moynihan Station, Mr. Lieber’s breakfast remarks also touched on the Hudson Yards (where he sough to downplay public disagreement between Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Charles Schumer), the need for more convention space, and the Yankees latest request for more tax-exempt financing.  On the latest point, Mr. Lieber sough to signal an end to generous City tax breaks to private businesses.

Read Crain’s New York Business coverage of the event here, and watch a video of the event here

FBI Uniform Crime Report: NYC Remains Safest Big City In America

New York City’s Drop in Violent Crime Was Twice as Large as the Nation’s

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police  Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced that New York City remains the safest big city in America, according to the FBI’s preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2007.  The report shows that, compared to 2006, the City experienced a 2.7 percent drop in overall crime last year. Murders in New York City declined 16.8 percent, while they fell 2.7 percent nationwide. In addition, the FBI’s report shows that violent crime in the City decreased 3.1 percent last year, outpacing a national drop of 1.4 percent.

“New York City had fewer than 500 murders last year – the lowest number since comparable records have been kept – and there were over 1,100 fewer guns recovered from City streets last year compared to the year before,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “The numbers continue to go in the right direction, and it’s because of the impressive efforts of the men and women of the NYPD, as well as our innovative policing strategies and efforts to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.”

For 2007, the total crime index in New York City was 2,432.3 crimes per 100,000 people.  Out of the 245 cities with a population of 100,000 or more that reported to the FBI, New York City ranked 230th between Santa Clarita, California and Rancho Cucamonga, California.  Out of the nation’s 10 largest cities, New York City had the lowest Index Crime rate. Out of the nation’s 25 largest cities, New York ranked safest, scoring the lowest.

% Change from 2006 – 2007



New York City




















Larceny Theft



Motor Vehicle Theft




– 2.6%

-2.0% (est.)



The following chart shows where New York City ranked in the Total Crime Index for the nation’s largest cities.

Rank Year End 2007


Crimes per 100,000 people





San Antonio












Las Vegas



San Diego



Los Angeles



San Jose



New York 


Read here Mayor Bloomberg’s Press Release on the 2007 FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Proposed Changes to Tax Rules Have Sports Team Crying “Foul”

Can Forest City Ratner Raise $800 Million in Tax-Exempt Bonds to Finance Construction of the Barclays Center?
City’s issuance of tax-exempt bonds enabled the Mets to raise $612.9 million for CitiField, Yankees to raise $943 million for new Stadium (and they want $300 million more)

From the New York Times:

More than two years ago, the Bloomberg administration came up with an aggressively creative way to use tax-exempt bonds to finance two of the most expensive stadiums in the world, one for the Yankees in the Bronx and another for the Mets in Queens.

The Internal Revenue Service initially approved the use of the bonds for the ballparks, but quickly issued a proposal in 2006 to tighten the rules governing the use of tax-exempt bonds so that it would be more difficult, and perhaps impossible, for this kind of financing to be used again by profitable, private enterprises like professional sports teams.

Now state and city officials say the proposed rules are jeopardizing what is planned to be the city’s next big sports palace: the $950 million Barclays Center, an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the Nets that is the centerpiece of the huge residential and commercial complex in Brooklyn known as Atlantic Yards. The project’s developer, Forest City Ratner, says it plans to break ground on the arena this fall and has long expected to use tax-exempt financing to reduce its borrowing costs by tens of millions of dollars.

Continue here to finish Charles V. Bagli’s New York Times article about new I.R.S. rules to limit sports teams’ use of tax-exempt bonds.

Institutionalizing PlaNYC Brownfield Cleanup Goals: Mayor Bloomberg Creates Office of Environmental Remediation (OER)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg this week announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) to expedite the cleanup of contaminated brownfield sites throughout New York City as outlined in PlaNYC. The new office will create a new local brownfield program and work with communities and developers to help them navigate remediation processes. Mayor Bloomberg also outlined a series of reform measures for New York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, including State authorization of the City to offer liability protection for Brownfield cleanups performed under City oversight.

Cleaning up all contaminated land in New York City is one of the 10 major goals of PlaNYC, New York City’s long-term sustainability plan. The City has invested $18 million over the next five years to fund local brownfield cleanup efforts and significantly expand the City’s role to encourage testing and cleanup of the sites.

The New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program, which was created by law in 2003, has been effectively shut down for the last year due to State concerns over the high cost of State tax credits issued to relatively few completed sites. The program is currently closed with a 90-day moratorium to allow legislators time to consider reform.

One of the key measures outlined by PlaNYC the creation of a new brownfield cleanup program dedicated to light and moderately contaminated sites throughout New York City. State authorization of program, which would be administered by OER, would allow the City to offer State liability protection, an important incentive for enrollment in the brownfield cleanup programs in New York State and throughout the country. The Mayor’s proposed City reform package includes five key measures:

  • Authorize a local voluntary brownfield cleanup program for New York City to address light and moderately-contaminated sites and reduce the number of at-risk remediations in New York City;
  • Redistribute State Brownfield Credits to encourage more participation in the State Brownfield Clean Up Program;
  • Establish a 10 percent tax credit for sites in Brownfield Opportunity Areas that are developed in conjunction with a community based plan to increase the community’s voice in site development;
  • Increase eligibility for State cleanup oversight by removing the restriction of historic ‘fill sites.’ which represent up to 25 percent of New York City’s land; and,
  • Enhance the Brownfield Opportunity Area Grant Program to provide community groups the planning resources they need

Read here Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement of the creation of the Office of Environmental Remediation (OER).

Work at Ground Zero Site Is Behind Schedule

Governor Paterson Asks the Port Authority for a Reevaluation of Schedules and Cost Estimates

From the New York Times:

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on Wednesday that it was running more than a month behind schedule in delivering the site of Tower 2 at the new World Trade Center to the developer, Silverstein Properties. The authority will pay Silverstein a $300,000 daily penalty, beginning July 1, until the site can be turned over fully excavated in August.

By the end of the day, Gov. David A. Paterson called on the authority’s new executive director, Christopher O. Ward, to determine whether current schedules and cost estimates for the reconstruction of the trade center were “reliable and achievable.”

“If they are not,” Governor Paterson told Mr. Ward, “I would like an evaluation of what viable alternatives exist to get the project back on track or whether we need to alter our targets to meet the reality on the ground.” He said he expected the report by the end of June.

The authority said in response that such an assessment was being conducted.

Continue here to finish David W. Dunlaps’ article on WTC construction delays.

Read here Governor Paterson’s press release on his letter to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward.

Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson Announce Implementation of Recommendations to Improve Mental Health and Public Safety

NYS/NYC Mental Health-Criminal Justice Panel Proposes Reforms to Adult Mental Health Treatment System, Adult Criminal Justice System, and Juvenile Justice System

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson this week announced plans to implement a comprehensive set of recommendations from a joint New York State/New York City Mental Health-Criminal Justice Panel.  The Panel’s charge was to improve the quality and consistency of care given to individuals with serious mental illnesses.  By examining several cases of violent incidents involving individuals with serious mental illnesses, assessing the current mental health and justice systems, and by consulting with experts in mental health and violence, the Panel identified many opportunities to improve delivery of mental health services and protect public safety. 

The Panel identified four areas where improvements were needed, and recommended specific measures to address these challenges.  These challenges include: (1) poor coordination, fragmented oversight and lack of accountability in the mental health system; (2) inconsistencies in quality of care within the mental health treatment system; (3) limited capacity to share information within and between the mental health and criminal and juvenile justice systems; and (4) insufficient training, supports and tools to identify and engage individuals with mental illnesses in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

On the mental health-criminal justice reforms, read the Governor’s press release here and the Mayor’s press release here.

Read the NYS/NYC Mental Health-Criminal Justice Panel full report here.

Barring a Breakthrough in Albany, City’s OTB Parlors Will Fold on Sunday

Mayor Says City Cannot Afford to Keep Parlors Open Unless City is Allowed to Keep More Revenue or State Provides More Aid

Closing Would Eliminate 1,500 Jobs and Deprive State of Millions in Revenue

From the New York Times:

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson and the State Legislature did not reach an agreement on Thursday on a plan that would rescue New York City’s Off-Track Betting Corporation before Sunday, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is scheduled to shut down the city’s 60 betting branches.

The OTB was one of several issues on the table during a cordial but at times strained news conference that the governor held with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. The three men discussed what they hoped to accomplish before the end of the legislative session on June 23.

Mr. Paterson said he was open to a range of options to keep the OTB afloat, including a state takeover of the city’s operations. He said he would consider state aid that would allow the city to continue running the parlors. Mr. Bloomberg says the city would be forced to subsidize them because of rules that send large portions of the parlors’ revenue to the state.

The closing would eliminate an industry overnight, putting 1,500 people out of work and depriving the state of tens of millions of dollars in revenue a year.

“I don’t know if I have a preference so much as I would like to lead the consensus on it,” Mr. Paterson said.

Continue here to finish Nicholas Confessore’s article on OTB negotiations

Found: Pro-Tax Republican (But Not Exactly)

Majority Leader Bruno Criticizes Governor Paterson’s Plan to Cap Increases in Local Property Taxes

Favors Instead “Phasing Out” Property Taxes and Replacing Lost Revenue with Billions in New Education Aid from State

From the New York Sun:

A dispute in Albany over Governor Paterson’s proposal to cap growth in school property taxes has opened a surprising rift in the state Senate.

In a vivid illustration of the topsy-turvy world of state politics, the Senate Republican majority leader, Joseph Bruno, is siding with the teachers unions and blocking the measure, while the Senate Democratic leader, Malcolm Smith, is not only supporting a cap but says he wants to restrict taxes even more aggressively than the governor.

Mr. Bruno yesterday joined the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, in opposing Mr. Paterson’s plan to impose a strict limit on how much districts outside New York City can raise property taxes each year.

During a press conference with Mr. Paterson, Mr. Smith, and other legislative leaders, who took a break from end-of-session negotiations to give an update on their lack of progress, Mr. Bruno criticized the governor’s bill as phony relief for homeowners and said he wouldn’t introduce it on the floor.

Instead, Mr. Bruno promoted an alternative plan that would “phase out” local property taxes by shifting billions of dollars in school costs to the state. Mr. Bruno has not said how the state would pay for it, and Assembly Democrats have refused to acknowledge its existence, let alone debate it.

Continue here to finish Jacob Gershman’s article on Albany’s competing plans to reduce property taxes.

The Friendly Arbitrator: State Supreme Court Justice Orders Legislature to Raise Pay for New York State’s Judges

Legislature May Appeal

From the New York Times:

Weighing in on a longstanding tug of war between New York’s jurists and lawmakers, a State Supreme Court justice ordered the Legislature on Wednesday to give the state’s 1,250 judges their first pay raise in 10 years.

The ruling, by Justice Edward H. Lehner, came in response to a lawsuit filed last September by Patricia M. Nuñez of New York City Criminal Court, Michael L. Nenno of Cattaraugus County Family Court, Susan R. Larabee of New York City Family Court and Geoffrey D. Wright of New York City Civil Court. Justice Lehner gave the Legislature 90 days to increase the current salary of $136,700 for all New York State trial judges.

But the judges may have to wait much longer if the Legislature appeals the ruling.
Gov. David A. Paterson’s office released a statement saying that his administration was considering its options. “While the governor has long supported salary increases for judges, today’s opinion flies in the face of the State Constitution, which makes clear that only the Legislature has the power to set judicial salaries,” the statement said.

Judges have argued that the Legislature has unconstitutionally linked the salaries of lawmakers and judges, stonewalling the judges from pay increases in line with inflation. Judges say that lawyers fresh out of law school working at New York City firms earn more than they do.

Continue here to finish John Eligon’s article on pay for New York State’s judges.

Schedule of Hearings in the New York City Council for the Week of June 16

Health Joel Rivera, Chair
Monday, June 16, 10:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Language access in New York Citys pharmacies

Consumer Affairs Leroy G. Comrie, Jr., Chair
Monday, June 16, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight Street Vending in New York City

Immigration Kendall Stewart, Chair
Monday, June 16, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight – Temporary Protective Status for Haitians

Zoning & Franchises Tony Avella, Chair
Tuesday, June 17, 9:30 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available Thursday, June 12, 2008, in Room 5 City Hall

Education Robert Jackson, Chair
Tuesday, June 17, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Agenda to be announced

Landmarks, Public Siting & Maritime Uses Jessica S. Lappin, Chair
Tuesday, June 17, 11:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available Thursday, June 12, 2008, in Room 5 City Hall

Planning, Dispositions & Concessions Daniel R. Garodnick, Chair
Tuesday, June 17, 1:00 PM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available Thursday, June 12, 2008, in Room 5 City Hall

Fire & Criminal Justice Services Miguel Martinez, Chair
Tuesday, June 17, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight – Examining FDNY Self Contained Breathing Apparatus and Associated Training

General Welfare Bill de Blasio, Chair
Tuesday, June 17, 1:00 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Project Full Enrollment: Are we creating a sustainable model for childcare in NYC? Res 1415 – By Council Members de Blasio, Brewer, Eugene, Fidler, James, Koppell, Lappin, Liu, Mark-Viverito, Nelson, Palma, Sanders Jr., Vann, Weprin and Yassky – Resolution calling upon the Administration for Children’s Services to achieve stated goals herein including the creation of (i) a written procedure to be followed before closing centers; (ii) a searchable database for locating centers on the website; (iii) a centralized city waiting list; (iv) a system for reevaluating enrollment and capacity numbers; and (v) a report detailing monthly attendance and enrollment figures citywide for subsidized childcare for the last two calendar years and to report such achievements to the Council by July 1, 2008 before implementing Project Full Enrollment Initiative. Res 1420 – By Council Members Reyna, James, Brewer, Mark-Viverito, Vann and Gonzalez – Resolution calling upon the Bloomberg Administration to place a moratorium on the implementation of the Project Full Enrollment Initiative.

Public Housing Rosie Mendez, Chair
Wednesday, June 18, 10:00 AM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight – NYCHA’s Payments to the City

Civil Rights Larry B. Seabrook, Chair
Wednesday, June 18, 10:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Agenda to be announced

Senior Centers James Vacca, Chair
Wednesday, June 18, 1:00 PM
Dreiser Senior Center
Details: Senior Speak Out: Senior Concerns in Response to Proposed DFTA Modernization Efforts Location: Dreiser Senior Center 177 Dreiser Loop Bronx, NY 10475

Land Use Melinda R. Katz, Chair
Thursday, June 19, 10:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: All items reported out of the subcommittees AND SUCH OTHER BUSINESS AS MAY BE NECESSARY

Parks & Recreation Helen D. Foster, Chair
Thursday, June 19, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Should the Ridgewood Reservoir Be Preserved as a Wetland?

Transportation John C. Liu, Chair
Thursday, June 19, 10:00 AM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight – How does the MTA create or modify its bus routes?

Economic Development * Addition Thomas White, Jr., Chair
Thursday, June 19, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Int 779 – By Council Member Koppell – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to regionally significant projects and empire zones.

Small Business; Governmental Operations David Yassky, Simcha Felder, Chairs
Thursday, June 19, 1:00 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Int 777 – By Council Members Gennaro, Comrie, Felder, White and Yassky – A Local Law to amend the New York city charter and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the consolidation of the environmental control board with the office of administrative trials and hearings and replacing the commissioner of consumer affairs with the chief administrative law judge of the office of administrative trials and hearings on the environmental control board and making other changes related thereto.

Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Alan J. Gerson, Chair
Friday, June 20, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Update on Building of New World Trade Center