The mayor of New York lives in a ritzy townhouse on the upper east side of Manhattan, but he pretends to be a man of the people and rides the subway down to City Hall every day.
Bloomberg pretended to put his financial information empire into a blind trust when he became mayor, but then he put a deputy mayor in charge of it so he could keep a close eye on his billions.
The mayor told us that maintaining law and order in the nation’s largest city was one of his biggest priorities, then he financed a clumsy amendment to the city charter so he could run for a third term. Most of the people who were planning to run for the position dropped out when Mike started rattling his awesome money belt.
Mike has palatial estates in several countries, including Bermuda and Switzerland, but as far as we know he still is an American citizen.
Last week, Bloomberg put his imprimatur on the city’s latest scheme to bail out the embarrassing mess it has made of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site.
For almost eight years now, since Osama bin Laden dispatched his suicide pilots to murder nearly 3,000 people in New York City, the 16-acre site in lower Manhattan has been an empty hole, a gaping wound in the national psyche.
Within a few months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Bloomberg unveiled a grand design for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. It included a bevy of modern skyscrapers, a soaring billion-dollar train station designed by Santiago Calatrava, and a somber memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack.
The centerpiece of the planned WTC rebirth was a majestic, gleaming spire of a building that would rise a symbolic 1,776 feet, making it the tallest structure in New York. We were told it would be called the Freedom Tower.
Last week, the city announced it finally has found a primary tenant for the Freedom Tower, for which about 10 stories of steel foundation work has been completed thus far.
Some business entities controlled by the People’s Republic of China will move into the new skyscraper, assuming it is completed on schedule on or about the tenth anniversary of the September 11 atrocities.
An outfit called the Beijing Vantone Real Estate Company plans to build the ”China Center”, a combination chamber of commerce and cultural center, on floors 64 through 69 of the Freedom Tower, at the southeast corner of West and Vesey Streets.
”The China Center will be a gateway for Chinese corporations doing business in the U.S. or U.S. companies that want to understand the Chinese culture and do business there,” said Xue Ya, project director for the China Center.
At the same time that it announced the deal for the China Center, the Freedom Tower’s landlord — the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — also declared that the new building will not be called the Freedom Tower.
Henceforth, the property will be known by its legal address, One World Trade Center, the Port Authority said.
Of course, this is strictly a coincidence.
Bloomberg and other city officials insist that erasing the word ”freedom” from the name of the tower has nothing to do with the fact that its newest tenant represents an entity that continues to steadfastly deny any semblence of freedom to 1.3 billion people on this planet.
They were applauded by The New York Times, which suggested on its editorial page that suitable tenants at the building formerly known as the Freedom Tower ”might balk at a name with such potent ideological symbolism.”
Besides, Bloomberg said, New Yorkers will call the building whatever they want. ”They don’t call Sixth Avenue the Avenue of the Americas, do they?” he helpfully pointed out.
Is that a faint smile we see on the face of the wax dummy in the glass case in Lenin’s Tomb? After he murdered the czar’s family, Lenin famously said ”the capitalists will sell us the rope we hang them with.”
Since Mike says we can call the new building whatever we want, we’re going to tip our hat to Chinese culture and the courageous city officials who felt free to desecrate the place in New York where so many people took their last breath of freedom.
We’ll call it ”The Kowtower.”
As in kowtow, an ancient Chinese word that, according to Mr. Webster, means:
”To kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of submission, as formerly done in China.”
”To show servile deference.”
”An obsequious act.”
That about says it all.
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