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We Have A Charter, Let's Live By It

Ron Shiffman, Pratt Institute

I came here with a prepared statement to read, to talk about how we really believe there really needs to be more than two minute sound bytes to debate, discuss and learn about the plans before us. However I think it would be best if I not read from that statement, but I will submit it in writing.

I do want to say that Listening to the City and Imagine New York this summer and earlier this year engaged over 9,000 people...about rebuilding New York and it seems to me that as we move with a more substantive plans, that we have to debate, particularly among these nine plans, that Lower Manhattan Development Corporation seems to have forgotten what productive public participation is and could be. We really call upon them to re-institute something like Listening to the City so that we can understand the plans, we can debate the plans and talk about it.

But I have to say a couple of things after sitting here tonight. After that attack, New York City lost about 100,000 thousand jobs - more importantly, we lost 3,000 of our neighbors. I think it is important that when we memorialize and we think about building a memorial, that we build one that honors those who were victims, that we build one that honors those who were heroes, and that we think about the democratic process in which we go, as a process and as a people, not as structures. And that we begin to think of how we rebuild in a way that speaks to our aspirations as a people, a pluralistic people. How would it be if we rebuilt and the firefighters and the teachers and the maintenance workers and the police and the emergency service workers couldn't afford to live there or couldn't get a job as a result of it? It would be tragic.

I think as we begin to rebuild we have to think about how we memorialize it, how we want to send a signal to the world--and the world is watching--that we are a democracy that is inclusive, and that has a process of engaging its people in even the hardest decisions. And I urge the governor, and urge all of the people here to call out that we have a true democratic decision-making process around this...

We have to give the power back to the people in the city of New York and we have to put it back into the democratic processes that we have developed over the years. We have a charter, we have a constitution, let's live by it.

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