Private National September 11 Memorial & Museum Seeking $20 million From Congress for Inflated Salaries, Fraudulent Propagan

gretavo's picture

Note that the article below only complains about the salaries--it does not, as we do, hold that the entire premise of the "Memorial and Museum" is fraudulent.

Herald News: Troubling salaries around 9/11 memorial
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Herald News
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The Record reported on Monday that the executive vice president of design and construction of the non-profit National September 11 Memorial & Museum received a salary of $440,000 in 2010, a figure that included a $296,000 severance payment, when she left her job.

Seven other executives made more than $200,000 that year. And salaries are going up. The foundation spent $5.3 million in salaries and benefits in 2009 and $6.5 million in 2010.

Foundation President Joe Daniels defended the salaries in a prepared statement, saying, "The employee compensation we offer is both competitive and comparable to other similarly situated non-profits."

Fine. But just what are "other similarly situated non-profits?"

There really aren't any. Sept. 11, 2001, was a unique tragedy in the history of the United States. Never before had the nation seen such a devastating attack on its soil. Those working on a suitable on-site memorial should see their jobs as a public service, not as a money-making opportunity. No matter how creatively Daniels frames his statement, comparing the 9/11 museum foundation with any other charity is not very convincing.

Jimmy Riches, a former New York City deputy fire chief whose firefighter son died in the North Tower, said the foundation seems more like a commercial enterprise than a non-profit charity. He added, "This is totally wrong, and I think it's disrespectful to people who died." He has a good point.

The Record's report of salaries at the foundation came as the non-profit is seeking a $20 million annual appropriation from Congress, which would be about a third of its budget. Other revenue to support the foundation's work comes from government grants and fund raising. Steady federal support for the foundation is a workable premise, but before that happens, the non-profit should adopt a more reasonable salary structure.

In the wake of this latest revelation on high salaries, some are calling for the National Park Service to take over the project. We don't need to add more bureaucracy to the 9/11 site, and while the Park Service has experience in running museums and parks, we are not sure it is the ideal fit for the political and emotional morass the former World Trade Center has become. What we need most is accountability, and we need to remember what we are building.

While the memorial opened on time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the planned opening this year for the museum is in doubt. Work is virtually stopped because of disputes between the foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land. This is unacceptable. The museum is too integral to the 9/11 healing. The museum is envisioned to include a special section for family members, a repository of human remains for prayer and reflection and the chance for the public to purchase cobblestone pavers in memory of victims.

The museum promises to be a moving and forceful tribute to both the victims of 9/11 and to the nation as a whole. The foundation's work is needed and valuable. But those doing that work should see themselves as being part of the nation's healing, not examples of corporate greed.