A Reporter’s Troubled Questions: A Little Too Late

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The American people trusted our government to protect us, and in the last 8 years our leaders let us down big time. I’m sorry, “The Thing” Tuesday should not have been a surprise.
Tell me, Mr. and Mrs. America, and Mr. and Mrs. White Plains didn’t you think exactly like I did the last 8 years, that our government was looking out for our welfare? Always.

Didn’t we trust them to always have our best interest in mind in dealing with foreign policy, enemies, etc. We spend billions on the FBI, the CIA, the INS, the DEA, the ATAF, the NSA. You name it there was an agency that was out there looking out for us, Mr. and Mrs. America, protecting us against the Haitian boat people, the Mexican illegal aliens, the Branch Davidians, the Aryan Nation. Real threats there.

Weren’t we told all efforts were being made? Didn’t you and I think that?I mean, I don’t have time to check the quotes after the USS Cole torpedoing, the Ethiopian embassy blast, and I’m probably forgetting some catastrophic incidents, as well.

So when the Ethiopian embassy was blasted, we thought well, (at least this reporter did), that we’ll probably be getting a handle on this bin Laden guy real quick. We trusted our FBI, CIA, the National Security Agency, would quite rightly get on his case. We trusted them.

Well, they didn’t.

Why didn’t they?

I am blame-pointing, and not being fair. I am not being forgiving. Because I am outraged that “The Thing” that happened Tuesday was a complete surprise. This is too incredulous to be believed that it was a surprise. Couldn’t we have a little suspicion once in awhile? Were our top law enforcement and security agencies hands tied? And, if so, by whom?

Just today, we find that with a lot of effort the FBI has turned up over at least 100 suspects in this plot. In four days. You think, perhaps if they had actually infiltrated these little cells in the last eight years that maybe they might have gotten a little inkling of the September 11 plot?

We know. It’s very hard to infiltrate because these folks are from the middle east. Rubbish. It’s your job to infiltrate. It’s your job.It’s your job to sniff it out. The last plot against the World Trade Center was sniffed out back in ’92-93. And they stopped it. And we did not do anything since? That is unacceptable. There is no excuse.

I have in a joking manner referred to the Clinton Administration as the worst presidency in American history, due to Mr. Clinton’s behavior. But not until this week did we know how really incompetent the administration really was. How utterly incompetent.

There is a heap of anger out there.

I fault the management of our intelligence gathering the last eight years. Because that is the question here. How can you round up a 152 people who might have done this in 4 days and not have any inkling this plot was in the air?Are you kidding me?

What do you make that the reason we are not retaliating right away is those geniuses at the CIA are working the phones to the Mossad, saying, “Hey, you know anything about these guys?” I hope not.

I hate to say it, but Clinton not only disgraced the Presidency. He appears to have grossly mismanaged American intelligence on his watch. Or, the persons who ran it for him did. Here’s why:

Not to have infiltrated Bin Laden’s gang effectively after the Ethiopian embassy bombing and the USS Cole bombing is a major negligence. Is anyone suspicious at the FBI and CIA anymore? Do not forget the FBI and the CIA, could not even find those two moles, who were outing their agents in Russia for years. How about a little skepticism? Another thing, they were too busy sniffing out real threats to the country like the Branch Davidians. Of course, the FBI and CIA are going to be blamed. Police and fire officials always know no matter how they handle anything the political forces will use them as scapegoats. Sometimes they are to blame.

But, there appears to this suspicious mind, more to this than just bungling. More evidence to throw in the hopper: Could the FBI, CIA, have been consciously prevented by the Clinton Administration as a matter of policy from extensively infiltrating Middle East terror organizations? Because Clinton had this “pipe dream” of going out as being the President who arranged a Middle East lasting peace, could the FBI and CIA have had their hands tied, because the feckless, clueless Clintonistas did not want to irritate the wonderful Mr. Arafat? Because they did not want covert operations against bin Laden, Quaddafi and Hussein, poisening the atmosphere on the negotiations? Remember how Clinton, the darling of the media, was portrayed as such a diplomat? He was so concerned about his legacy?

We reporter-types have a lot of respect for law enforcement guys. We believe they are doing their job to their best, 24/7. But they have to be allowed to do it. And they have to be given solid, responsible direction. I do not think this is the FBI’s fault. Could they have done a better job? The last four days of swift detentions and shocking revelations tells me they could have if they were allowed to. For some reason they did not. Why?

You can just hear the Clinton braintrust talking to the FBI now back in 1996 can’t you? “Look if we really go after this guy, well it’s going to prevent us from creating an atmosphere for peace…dadadada daddada”

No one will write these things because they are unseemly and unthinkable. Well, I am. Too bad.

In the months ahead, members of congress will be asking these kind of questions in the biggest congressional investigation you have ever seen. They are honest questions that need to be answered. I think you’re going to see a lot of old familiar Clinton Administration regulars quizzed on camera in the next two years if we get to that point. Harsh, unfair, partisan? Yes, all of those. But the 5,000 dead persons from Tuesday deserve them to be answered.

Tuesday you saw the result of 8 years of alleged intentionally curtailed intelligence operations for what can only be political reasons. A megolomaniac President’s ego perhaps?

As an aside, to see former President Clinton appearing in public Friday comforting people on camera before President Bush arrived in New York Friday, was a disgraceful faux pas. He was the President — “The Boss” when the FBI, CIA, and the usual agencies should have been getting hard information on these Barbary Pirates. Clinton told one tearful woman looking for her husband when asked if he could help, “I am not the President.” This is perhaps a good thing, and completely in character. Mr. Clinton always passed the buck to someone else.

It strains reason to believe the FBI can finger over 150 people in four days and not have been prevented for some preposterous political reason from conducting the undercover work needed to sniff out any plots they might have been hatching.

This epic outrage has ended for all time the credibility of our usual talking heads: Yasir Arafat’s PLO is through for good. (That’s why he was crying on camera Tuesday. He was crying because he is through. And anyone negotiating with this organization again is on dream street.)
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were caught on video tape on a television show saying God is angry at us because we as a nation support abortion, homesexuality, etc. Poppycock. Saying those things have discredited him and Robison as a credible political force, as much as “The Thing” Tuesday has ended the hopes of the Palestinians for a thousand years. How stupid and self-serving of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson to say that.

Last but not least are the “journalists” of today to whom investigative reporting is a lost art. To whom the tough question is anathema to ask. To whom investigative journalism consists of telling why things happened, not telling what is going to happen. Years of talking about Monica instead of our terrorist stance? Come on.

One writer actually dreamed up this kind of debacle in the fifth rate men’s magazine, Maxim, conjuring up just this kind of scenario, only his villains were bin Laden and the Columbian drug cartels, not the Middle Eastern terrorists. If he could dream it up, why couldn’t our security agencies? To read that chilling article go to the Maxim Magazine website and do a search on “Terrorists.” The article appeared in August, 2000.

WPCNR

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Cappelli City Center New Designs to Present Monday

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Frederick Bland and Louis Cappelli will present their new design suggestions for the City Center Towers Monday at 8 AM in City Hall.
As of Friday afternoon, plans were in place for the new Bland-Cappelli designs for the City Center apartment towers to be presented Monday morning to the Planning Board, Urban Renewal Agency, Design Review Board, Conservation Board and the Common Council.

Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for the Cappelli organization, advised WPCNR Friday afternoon that Mr. Bland has been working with the Cappelli team all week long tweaking the designs. He did not have any information whether Bland is actually drawing and designing or the nature of Mr. Bland’s participation was in the redo.

Thompson also said there was no change to his knowledge in Mr. Cappelli’s commitments from his financing banks.

The meeting is scheduled for 8 AM.

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The Bravest Come Back: White Plains Firefighters Return from WTC Rescue Mission.

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White Plains Firefighters participating in volunteer rescue duty at the World Trade Center catastrophe and in relief of city fire crews in the Bronx returned to duty Saturday night in White Plains.
Duncan MacRae, of the White Plains Professional Firefighters Association checked in with WPCNR Saturday night reporting that Engines 1 and 4 of White Plains Gedney and Old Mamaroneck Road (Station 1) returned to duty in White Plains after 3 days in the Bronx. “We sent two engine companies (to The Bronx) to relieve their guys. It went on for three days. About 20 to 35 guys went down to aid in rescue work at the site, volunteering on their own, removing the rubble and debris to help rescue people. The guys were pulled towards it to help our brother and sister fire fighters.”

MacRae described the mood of the White Plains volunteers who participated in the rescue:

“There’s a lot of frustration among the men. I don’t know how to put this. They were basically pulling out dead people. We didn’t get out as many living people as they had hoped because of the pancake collapse nature of it. Our guys are dealing with it pretty well. They are very supportive to each other when they get back.”

MacRae said the men performing the harrowing rescue work were overwhelmed: “It’s too much to bear. It’s difficult for them to come back to work. But, they are still back.”

MacRae reports that Tom Van Essen, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department “has assured us that the New York City Fire Department now has the rescue operation in hand and feels he can better coordinate the city “tours” (of duty) with his chain of command, so we’ve suspended our official operations down there.”
MacRae said the initial hits were “too massive for them to handle. It’s pretty much out now, but as rubble removal continues, it allows more oxygen to the fire, causing flare-ups.”

The crews and Engines 1 and 4 from the Gedney Station were assigned to the Bronx this week and are back on duty in White Plains as of Saturday night, according to MacRae. Cliff Gapco, Jim Escarvage and Roberto Ripari manned Engine 1, and Kevin Heffernan, Steve Glover, and Keith Simone, on Engine 4.

MacRae said “They were ready to serve any need whatsoever. On behalf of the men. We’re ready to go back, if needed.”

MacRae also reported that those White Plains Firefighters volunteering on their own at the crash site, were told they would not be covered by Workmen’s Compensation or their city insurances, if they were injured.

At this point our telephone interview was ended by the intermittent blasts of the firehorn.

MacRae, apologetically said “Looks like I’m going to have to be going out soon.”

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Prayer for the World Trade Center Tragedy

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The Yonkers Tribune, a sister affiliate of the Westchester Network, created the following prayer on the day of disaster, which White Plains CitizeNetReporter presents as a tool of comfort in this grim time.
As the cries of the bereaved rise across this continent, we turn, O God, to you in shock.

We watch as this day of horror unfolds, and cannot fathom the depths of hatred and desperation that could have willed such devastation upon innocent people.

We, at YonkersTribune.com, join with others throughout the world in praying for the victims killed, maimed or wounded, and for their families and loved ones. Be near to those who grieve, we pray.

We pray for all those called into emergency service, police and ambulance drivers, caregivers, emergency personnel and passers-by — give clarity of thought, steady hands that they may do what is needed.

We pray for the people and Government of the United States of America, and indeed all nations, that those in authority might respond not out of vengeance but with wisdom, restraint, and reason.

Finally, we pray for ourselves, and people of goodwill throughout the world, that we might be given open hearts to understand the meaning in the madness of this day. Comfort us all.

In the legitimate cries of oppressed and suffering people throughout the world who live lives of ongoing catastrophe, may we hear your voice calling us to build a world of justice in order that we might create a world of peace.

In the name of The Lord, we pray. Amen

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County Chamber of Commerce Determining Office Space Availability for Relocations

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Marsha Gordon, President of the Westchester County Chamber of Commerce,asked county firms to advise her of empty office space to spearhead relief efforts for businesses left homeless by the World Trade Center disaster.
Gordon announced Friday that the Chamber is calling on county firms and Chamber members to advise of empty office space to begin assisting in the relocation of firms from New York City displaced by the World Trade Center attack.
Gordon asked companies to check in with the Chamber if they had formal offices available, or as little as a desk and a telephone. She said they are also interested in gathering information about business services and equipment availablity in this clearing house effort.

Businesses are urged to fax the Chamber at (914) 948-0122 or e-mailed to The County Chamber of Commerceon the internet.

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Planning Board Roundup: City Center endorsed.

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The City of White Plains Planning Board endorsed the Cappelli City Center project pending design changes Tuesday night.
In a Planning Board meeting held before virtually no audience Tuesday evening, the Board gave its blessing to the Cappelli City Center project with the following caveats, according to the official minutes:

The Board recommends the Common Council consider the visual impact of the roof-scape (of the City Center retail/theater portion) on residents of the existing and proposed apartment buildings.

The Board prefers the previous design of the Martine Avenue facade of the parking structure (false apartment fronts), because the articulated facade broke up the mass of the structure and appeared more residential in character. Two elements of the current design preferred by the Board are the light shielding and the grillwork on the openings.

The proposed sign on the upper left corner of the Mamaroneck Avenue frontage of the building should be replaced by a “blade sign” affixed to the corner of the building, above the Greenpoint Bank building.

A clock should be installed in the City Center plaza.

A uniform license should be granted the applicant for the projection of signs from the building.

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Bland on Board City Center: New, Improved Bland/Cappelli Towers Coming Monday

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WPCNR News learned Wednesday that Frederick Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, is redesigning the Towers of Cappelli as we write. The new looks are expected to be showcased to Monday in anticipation of a final vote September 20
Two reliable sources, one within City Hall, one with firsthand knowledge of the Cappelli & Bland creative team’s work have confirmed that Frederick Bland, “Super Architect” from Beyer, Blinder, Belle has combined with “Super Developer,” Louis Cappelli in a design makeover the last five days.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said he expects to “have more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the presentation of the Cappelli & Bland designs tentatively scheduled for Monday.

Pulling up lame in the backstretch.

After breaking from the gate in the Common Council Stakes strongly, City Center stumbled rounding the turn to approvals September 4. The Bland hiring for redesign came about to appease reservations Common Council members had about the Louis Cappelli “originals” presented to the Council at his 34-story zoning hearing September 4. On that ”Night of the New Heights,” the Council approved the 34-story scope of the towers.

But, they approved the 34 stories not without prejudice. For the first time, they informed Cappelli with a bit of bad news. His designs were not acceptable to the majority. Rita Malmud, the most outspoken architectural critic called the towers “34 stories of mediocrity.”

Changing Board Jockeys

Cappelli, shocked at the Council’s displeasure with the tower aesthetics, reacted swiftly. He told the Council he would hire Frederick Bland, the city consultant. Bland executed the study for the Council on the effect of building heights in downtowns, in early August. Cappelli informed The Journal News that he would “fire” Schuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural firm designing the towers, and engage Bland for his exclusive touch. Confirmation is hard to find.

However, Cappelli’s public relations firm, Thompson & Bender, and Bland’s own architectural firm, Byer, Blinder, Belle did not confirm to WPCNR that Mr. Bland was, indeed, on board.

Now, WPCNR has ascertained Mr. Bland is fully involved holding the reins. Mr. Bland has had at least 5 days on the designs, since as of last Thursday evening he was not under contract. Today, a source shown the latest thinking on the Cappelli City Center project, said Mr. Bland was fully integrated, hands-on, in the redesign process and that Shuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural designer, is out of the picture. Work was reported being executed in the Beyer Blinder Belle offices on 11th Street in New York City. How Mr. Cappelli and Mr. Bland were interfacing on the project is not known at this time.

Down the stretch they come.

A city hall source confirmed the new look or looks are planned for showing tentatively Monday morning in a dramatic presentation to the Design Review Board, the Planning Board, the Conservation Board, and the Urban Renewal Agency.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s right hand man, said he would have “more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the details of the unveiling. City Hall, he said, is trying to arrange for the Common Council to see the designs at the same time, because he did not want the other city boards to see them before the Common Council, WPCNR presumes, as a matter of protocol and respect for the Council.

Photo finish.

At this late date, Monday appears the last possible date for a pre-vote viewing of the designs by the Council, considering the holy days of Rosh Hashanah are on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

The ultimate City Center vote on the Cappelli site plan and Special Permit is scheduled to be held by the Common Council on September 20, one week from Thursday. However, there is always the possibility it could be moved forward.

Win, Place or Show Money scheduled for September 25

Mr. Cappelli is pushing the City Center horse hard for approval September 20 because he is scheduled to close on his financing with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce September 25.

It remains to be been whether CIBC, previously committed to furnishing $375MM to bankroll the City Center construction, is being affected by the reeling international markets resulting of the World Trade Center catastrophe. Mr. Cappelli’s pleadings with the Common Council to move faster because of the “event-risk” factor in any financing arrangement now appear eerily prophetic.

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Brutal Day After: Postponements of Events.

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WPCNR will report your cancellations and postponements as well as any services or efforts you or other community groups may be considering in the days ahead to help or assist as the metropolitan area regroups. Today, the JPI Groundbreaking at 300 Mamaroneck Avenue was postponed and the Candyce Corcoran for County Legislator fundraiser for Friday, September 14 was postponed.
City hall reported today that due to JPI executives being unable to fly in for the 300 Old Mamaroneck Road apartment complex groundbreaking for Jefferson at White Plains, the groundbreaking was postponed.

Candyce Canelstein Corcoran also reported to WPCNR to say that because of “the horror and devastation” of the Trade Center attack, and the fact that she has been placed on active reserve as a nurse to assist health authorities, that she is postponing her fundraising event scheduled for Friday evening, September 14, until further notice.

Please send your news to “Report News” on our website.

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Blood Donation Centers Open Locally Now.

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White Plains residents may donate blood at the following local blood donation centers if they wish to contribute in some small way to aid the victims of the Trade Center catastrophe.
Residents may donate blood locally at:

1.White Plains Hospital Center, Davis Avenue and Post Road, White Plains. Hours, from 9 a.m.
2.Hudson Valley Blood Services, 525 Executive Blvd., Elmsford. Hours, from 7:30 a.m.

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Trade Center Demolished Connects Us All.

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In the worst premeditated surprise attack on any nation anywhere, with loss of life in the thousands, the World Trade Center Towers collapsed into rubble Tuesday morning by 10:30 AM and we all realized how connected we are.
No novelist has imagined this disaster. It is all too real and horrible. Not since the Hindenburg disaster have I heard radio reporting so emotional. Not since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has there been such loss of life in a single attack. As the attacks mounted every 15 minutes observed one radio reporter, America realized how connected we all are. At least this reporter did.

What impressed this reporter, was how connected we all really are here in America. A candidate for office worried about their treasurer’s wife who works in the Trade Center. I worried about my nephew, just starting his new job this summer in lower Manhattan, and I do not know exactly where he works. My brother-in-law called from Miami to see if my wife was all right. (She is.)

A friend of mine called to see if my wife was all right, too, then he mentioned what about those children in school who have parents working in those buildings? It was a sobering, angering thought.

Sobering because, you knew some of them had to have lost their parents. You just knew that.

Our very communicative society was communicating, phonelines were jammed. Everyone thought of loved ones or persons that they knew that perhaps worked down there.

Persons watching the horror unfold, broke down in front of their televisions. Breaking down, because of the sense that there was nothing they could do.

As I write this at 12 noon today, the end of these maniacal acts (a very appropriate description from one WOR reporter) is not in sight. But, when it does end, and it will, let’s remember how connected we feel to those entombed in the Trade Center rubble.

Let’s pull together and work together more, like those brave New York City Firefighters who obviously were trapped in the buildings when they collapsed. The police who obviously have died trying to evacuate the innocents within. I don’t want to hear any more knocks on the NYPD.

And please, Hollywood, no made-for-tv movies about this.

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