ewsday reports the Freedom Center has been put on the back burner but the WTC Memorial Foundation has adopted a code of conduct aimed at forcing dissenting members off the board.
The article notes that 4 911 family members on the Foundation approve the Center while 3 disapprove. There are 41 members total.
Even though the WTC Memorial Foundation is going to receive a $300 million grant from the state (actually a forwarded federal grant), the Foundation is a private 501-c-3 organization and so its meetings can be closed to the public and press. None of the Foundation’s three meetings thus far have been open.
We do not have a copy of the code (anybody want to give it to us) however John Whitehead, chairman of LMDC, said
But he did say he thought the code of conduct “will cause those members who dissent from things that the board does to consider whether or not they can appropriately stay on the board.”
Whitehead said (disingenuously) that the code was not in connection with the recent controversy about the Freedom Center.
Among the three board members who oppose the cultural center is Debra Burlingame, the sister of an American Airlines pilot who died in the attacks.
After the briefing, Burlingame spoke of what she described as a possible collision between cultural institutions committed to unfettered free speech and the mission of a memorial.
“I think what’s being asked here is that we exact a promise from these cultural institutions, in perpetuity, that they are going to respect the dead,” she said. “I’m not sure that that is something that is realistic.”
Meanwhile Whitehead said the Foundation is having problems raising funds for the memorial. Whitehead said the first $500 million will be applied to the memorial and that the Freedom Center is put on back burner.
This in essence probably means Ms. Burlingame has won her fight — at least for now — even though she will probably be forced from the board in the process.
By putting the Center on the back burner, it will allow a proper amount of time to debate its merits. The problem has always been that it was rammed down everybody’s throats “in a New York minute.”
Considering that LMDC is making the announcements this may also signal that LMDC could be considering building the Center. From a logistical point of view the WTC Memorial Foundation should never have been saddled with anything other than building the memorial. It does look like a hijacking when they were tasked with raising the funds for the Center. Now if LMDC does take it over, it will only fan the flames. The irony of all this is LMDC is a Republican controlled organization while the Take Back Memorial argument has always been that Center is a left wing conspiracy.