James Cavanaugh, President and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority has resigned from the public entity, according to an emailed statement.
Citing the changes in the Battery Park City Authorities focus from buildings to people in the community, Cavanaugh also alluded to an attractive State offered early retirement option as one of his reasons for resignation.
He will officially leave his post in October and his successor has yet to be named. Sources speculate that the current Chief Operating Officer Gayle M. Horwitz would be a prime candidate for the President role.
William Thompson, current Battery Park City Authority chairman who himself was recently appointed by Governor Paterson, will be responsible for nominating the next President of the authority.
Cavanaugh joined the Battery Park City Authority in 2004 as its Chief Operating Officer and was named President in 2005. Prior to overseeing the public corporation he had served as a Supervisor for the Town of Eastchester in Westchester County, New York.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a dinner at Gracie Mansion in celebration of Ramadan. We’ve included a transcript and video of his dinner speech:
â€œWell, good evening, and Ramadan Kareem, and I want to welcome everyone to our annual Ramadan Iftar at Gracie Mansion.
â€œWe call this â€˜The Peopleâ€™s House,â€™ because it belongs to all 8.4 million New Yorkers who call this city home. And people of every race and religion, every background and belief. And we celebrate that diversity here in this house with gatherings like this one.
â€œAnd for me, whether itâ€™s marking St. Patrickâ€™s Day or Harlem Week or any other occasion, these gatherings are always a powerful reminder of what makes our city so strong and our country so great.
â€œYou know, America is a nation of immigrants, and I think itâ€™s fair to say no place opens its doors more widely to the world than New York City. America is the land of opportunity, and I think itâ€™s fair to say no place offers its residents more opportunity to pursue their dreams than New York City. And America is a beacon of freedom, and I think itâ€™s fair to say no place defends those freedoms more fervently, or has been attacked for those freedoms more ferociously, than New York City.
â€œIn recent weeks, a debate has arisen that I believe cuts to the core of who we are as a city and a country. The proposal to build a mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan has created a national conversation on religion in America, and since Ramadan offers a time for reflection, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on that very subject.
â€œThere are people of good will on both sides of the debate, and I would hope that everyone can carry on a dialogue in a civil and respectful way. In fact, I think most people now agree on two fundamental issues: First, that Muslims have a constitutional right to build a mosque in Lower Manhattan and second, that the site of the World Trade Center is hallowed ground. And the only question we face is: how do we honor that hallowed ground?
â€œThe wounds of 9/11 are still very much with us. And I know that is true for Talat Hamdani, who is here with us tonight, and who lost her son, Salman Hamdani, on 9/11. There will always be a hole in our hearts for the men and women who perished that day.
â€œAfter the attacks, some argued â€“ including some of those who lost loved ones â€“ that the entire site should be reserved for a memorial. But we decided â€“ together, as a city â€“ that the best way to honor all those we lost, and to repudiate our enemies, was to build a moving memorial and to rebuild the site.
â€œWe wanted the site to be an inspiring reminder to the world that this city will never forget our dead and never stop living. We vowed to bring Lower Manhattan back â€“ stronger than ever â€“ as a symbol of our defiance and I think itâ€™s fair to say we have. Today, it is more of a community neighborhood than ever before, with more people than ever living, working, playing and praying there.
â€œBut if we say that a mosque or a community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom.
â€œWe would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting. We would feed the false impressions that some Americans have about Muslims. We would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.
â€œIslam did not attack the World Trade Center â€“ Al-Qaeda did. To implicate all of Islam for the actions of a few who twisted a great religion is unfair and un-American. Today we are not at war with Islam â€“ we are at war with Al-Qaeda and other extremists who hate freedom.
â€œAt this very moment, there are young Americans â€“ some of them Muslims â€“ standing freedomsâ€™ watch in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the world. A couple here tonight, Sakibeh and Asaad Mustafa, have children who have served our country overseas and after 9/11, one of them aided in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. And Iâ€™d like to ask them to stand, so we can show our appreciation. There you go. Thank you.
â€œThe members of our military are men and women at arms â€“ battling for hearts and minds. And their greatest weapon in that fight is the strength of our American values, which have already inspired people around the world. If we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad â€“ if we do not lead by example â€“ we undermine our soldiers. We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security.
â€œIn a different era, with different international challenges facing the country, President Kennedyâ€™s Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, explained to Congress why it is so important for us to live up to our ideals here at home. Dean Rusk said, â€˜The United States is widely regarded as the home of democracy and the leader of the struggle for freedom, for human rights, for human dignity. We are expected to be the model.â€™
â€œWe are expected to be the model. Nearly a half-century later, his words remain true. In battling our enemies, we cannot rely entirely on the courage of our soldiers or the competence of our diplomats. We all have to do our part.
â€œJust as we fought communism by showing the world the power of free markets and free elections, so must we fight terrorism by showing the world the power of religious freedom and cultural tolerance. Freedom and tolerance will always defeat tyranny and terrorism â€“ and thatâ€™s the great lesson of the 20th century, and we must not abandon it here in the 21st.
â€œNow I understand the impulse to find another location for the mosque and community center. I understand the pain of those who are motivated by loss too terrible to contemplate. And there are people of every faith â€“ including, perhaps, some in this room â€“ who are hoping that a compromise will end the debate.
â€œBut it wonâ€™t. The question will then become, how big should the â€˜no-mosque zoneâ€™ be around the World Trade Center site? There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it be moved?
â€œThis is a test of our commitment to American values. We have to have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy. And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years.
â€œNow, I know that many in this room are disturbed and dispirited by the debate. But itâ€™s worth keeping some perspective on the matter. The first colonial settlers came to these shores seeking religious liberty and the founding fathers wrote a constitution that guaranteed it. They made sure that in this country government would not be permitted to choose between religions or favor one over another.
â€œNonetheless, it was not so long ago that Jews and Catholics had to overcome stereotypes and build bridges to those who viewed them with suspicion and less than fully American. In 1960, many Americans feared that John F. Kennedy would impose papal law on America. But through his example, he taught us that piety to a minority religion is no obstacle to patriotism. It is a lesson I think that needs updating today, and it is our responsibility to accept the challenge.
â€œBefore closing, let me just add one final thought: Imam Rauf, who is now overseas promoting America and American values, has been put under a media microscope. Each of us may strongly agree or strongly disagree with particular statements that he has made. And thatâ€™s how it should be â€“ this is New York City.
â€œAnd while a few of his statements have received a lot of attention, I would like to read you something that he said that you may not have heard. At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, â€˜If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.â€™
He then continued to say, â€˜If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.â€™
â€œIn that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion.
â€œBy affirming that basic idea, we will honor Americaâ€™s values and we will keep New York the most open, diverse, tolerant, and free city in the world. Thank you and enjoy.â€
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is calling for the relocation of the controversial Park51 mosque.
Silver, who agrees that the Constitution protects the rights of the developers who want to build the community center and mosque, also feels they should be as interested in compassion for 9/11 victim families
“They should find a suitable place that won’t cause the same controversy,” Silver stated at a press conference with Gov. Paterson.
The Governor also offered his help in relocating the Park51 development. Discussions between the developers and the Governor have not materialized.
Silver’s call for reconsideration came right before the Governor was set to speak with Archbishop Timothy Dolan to discuss Park51 and how to facilitate moving the controversial development.
Park51 and the Cordoba Initiative have stated clearly their resolve in staying at 45-51 Park Place, and show no signs of relocating their community center. Daisy Kahn, one of the founders and wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, had stated that the relocation matter was “a bigger fight.”
With all the political and media attention turned to what has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque,” The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has accused officials on ignoring the reconstruction efforts of the church decimated during the September 11 attacks.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was a small building located within a parking lot area at the World Trade Center site. During the collapse of the Twin Towers, debris fell directly on the church destroying the entire structure. The congregation has been working with community groups to rebuild the demolished church.
The Port Authority and archdiocese have been in active negotiations until last year, and talks have not continued since.
“We have people that are saying, why isn’t our church being rebuilt and why is there.. such a concern for people of the mosque” according to Father Alex Karloutsos, to FoxNews.com. “Unfortunately, [the Port Authority] have just been silent — dead silent actually. They simply forgot about the church.”
According to the same article, “The archdiocese and Port Authority offer sharply conflicting accounts of where things went wrong. The Port Authority has previously claimed the church was making additional demands — like wanting the $20 million up front and wanting to review plans for the surrounding area. They say the church can still proceed on its own if it wishes.”
The church still reserves the rite to rebuild the church upon the property where the original church has stood. Representatives of the church have claimed the Port Authority has not sought to meet with church officials and has backpeddled on rebuilding the church.
As the church has not attracted the national media attention that Park51 has — it may be an upward battle to see the rebuilding of St. Nicholas back at the World Trade Center site.
President Obama finally broke his silence on the Park51 mosque and community center and stipulates that Muslims are within their right to build a place of worship during a State Dinner at the White House celebrating the Muslim holiday Ramadan:
â€œLet me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” President Obama said in the State Dining Room. “That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.
We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan,” he said. “The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaedaâ€™s cause is not Islam â€“ it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders â€“ these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion â€“ and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
It is a testament to the wisdom of our founders that America remains deeply religious â€“ a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in contrast to the religious conflict that persists around the globe.”
Nearly 24 hours later, after GOP scrutiny attacked on his comments, President Obama made a second statement while vacationing on the Florida coast:
“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.”
What do you think about President Obama’s comments on Park51?
Developers of the Park51 center have said they are open to dialogue with Governor Paterson to discuss alternate location options for the mosque.
Earlier this week, Paterson held a press conference requesting an open discussion, â€œI think itâ€™s rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizen of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause.â€
The effort is to ease the tension and nationwide scrutiny the Park51 development has caused. A CNN poll suggested that nearly 70% of all Americans across political and age lines were opposed to what has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
Although developer Shari El-Gamal is open to options, they have been focused in opening their Park51 center in Lower Manhattan, according to a report in today’s New York Daily News.
Paterson had suggested offering state-owned land for the project. Battery Park City is a state owned land in Lower Manhattan, as is Governor’s Island.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Governor has offered state help to help the developers of the Park51 mosque if they are willing to relocate the project away from the surrounding Ground Zero area.
According to the report, Governor Paterson was quoted in a press conference today saying, “I think it’s rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizen of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause.”
“I am very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out. We are really suffering in many respects — impassioned feelings were bound to emerge from a mosque just a couple of blocks from where nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of Muslim extremists.”
There was no comment yet from the developers of the project as well as from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to the rest of the report, a recent Marist College poll released today found that 53 percent of New York City voters polled oppose the construction of the Ground Zero site, with only 34 percent favoring the developers plan.
Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam associated with the development of the Ground Zero Mosque is headed for an international tour of Muslim Countries funded by the State Department, the NYPost is reporting.
The trip is meant to help the Imam gain an understanding of Muslim and Islamic communities in the United States. According to a State Department the itinerary includes visits to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar.
P.J. Crowley, a State Department rep has stated there will be no fund-raising during his visit and “[Fundraising] would not be something he could do as part of our program.”
Skeptics are saying that the power to meet with powerful business and political leaders in each country is enough to secure funding opportunities in the future.
9/11 victim families continue to be outraged. “Does the State Department have any idea they are sending a guy to the Middle East who is going to be fund-raising perhaps among the very same people he will be meeting with?
“He’s going to the well, and how can they say they do or don’t know what he’s doing?” says 9/11 family member Debra Burlingame quoted in the NYPost article.
“We know he has a fund-raising association with Saudi Arabia,” Burlingame said, noting that the Saudis have contributed money to underwrite programs by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a not-for-profit that Abdul Rauf runs with his wife and that is one of the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque.
How do you feel about the State Department funding this trip on behalf of the Ground Zero mosque?
The latest politician to take an opposing stance regarding the Park51 Mosque at Ground Zero is Newt Gingrich. Which in itself isn’t very surprising. What is the most surprising revelation from his statement is that he’s bidding for the White House in 2012.
Gingrich’s statement on the mosque released last night reads as follows:
“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.
The proposed “Cordoba House” overlooking the World Trade Center site â€“ where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites. Â For example, most of them donâ€™t understand that â€œCordoba Houseâ€ is a deliberately insulting term.Â It refers to Cordoba, Spain â€“ the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the worldâ€™s third-largest mosque complex.
Today, some of the Mosqueâ€™s backers insist this term is being used to “symbolize interfaith cooperation” when, in fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest. Â It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way.
Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for “religious toleration” are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can evenÂ enterMecca.
And they lecture us about tolerance.
If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom. Â Â They should be asked by the news media if they would be willing to lead such a campaign.
We have not been able to rebuild the World Trade Center in nine years.Â Now we are being told a 13 story, $100 million megamosque will be builtÂ within a year overlooking the site of the most devastating surprise attack in American history.
Finally where is the money coming from?Â The people behind the Cordoba House refuse to reveal all their funding sources.
America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.
No self deception.
The time to take a stand is now – at this site on this issue.”
Remarkably silent on her Twitter account after news of her daughter Bristol Palin’s engagement to ex-boyfriend and family nemesis Levi Johnston — America’s favorite soccer mom, Sarah Palin seems to have broken her silence on behalf of 9/11 families and opponents of the Ground Zero mosque at the World Trade Center site.
“Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real”
“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate”
“Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing”
Upon the news of her tweets, Palin was instantly mocked for using a word not in the English vocabulary, “refudiate.” Palin has since deleted that post and made light of her grasp of the English language.
“Refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” “wee-wee’d up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”
It is clear that not all politicians are celebrating the momentum that the Cordoba Initiative’s Park 51 mosque is receiving. Sarah Palin joins Rick Lazio as the most vocal political opponents of the mosque, where as other politicians including current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a strong advocate for the building of the mosque. Another strong advocate is our Community Board who oversees development in Battery Park City and at the World Trade Center site.
The current developer of Park 51 Sharif El-Gamal sees the mosque not only as a community center near Ground Zero, but as a future tourist attraction as well. El-Gamal was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article that he hopes that when tour buses come through the area, the mosque will become a monument as significant as the Empire State Building.