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Thread: A Fallen Hero - Video Inside

  1. #271
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    Jan 2005
    Whitman: EPA Knew 9/11 Contamination Put Workers, Residents at Risk
    News: At a House hearing, the former EPA head defends her decision not to warn the public; rescue worker says she should have "stood on the pile and told us how bad it was."

    By Brian Beutler, The Media Consortium
    June 27, 2007

    The "rules of the House of Representatives" prohibit audience members from hoisting signs and from disrupting proceedings with applause, anger, or any other kind of outburst. To judge from his admonition to the crowd at the end of his opening statement, it seems clear that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties, suspected that Monday's proceedings might inflame emotions.

    He was correct.

    The hall was filled to capacity, largely with people—firefighters, police officers, and others—whose efforts atop the rubble of the World Trade Center ultimately devastated their health. Four attendees sitting near the back of the room tried to hold up pictures of relatives who had succumbed to their illnesses, but the rules prohibited even that gesture. They had come to hear Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), explain to the committee why city employees and volunteers were allowed to work amid the devastation without respirators, and why area residents were welcomed back into Lower Manhattan when evidence strongly indicated that harmful toxins still lingered both in the air and in the piles of dust and debris that had blown into apartments and businesses away from ground zero.

    For nearly an hour, not a single Republican Congressman was present at the hearing, which was finally joined by ranking member Trent Franks (Ariz.) and, later, by Rep. Steve King (Iowa). Franks blamed the low turnout on the hearing's odd timing—a Monday afternoon.

    The committee's inquiries focused on two main issues. Members quizzed Whitman about the EPA's efforts to inform volunteers and the public about the environmental hazard in the vicinity of the disaster site. Scientists had determined—and had informed EPA officials—that the air quality on the debris pile was harmful, and that dust from the site contained dangerous levels of asbestos and other carcinogens. But those findings were not reflected in the statements Whitman and other officials made at the time; instead, they reassured residents that the air in the neighborhood was safe, and that dust could be cleaned with wet wipes and HEPA-filtered vacuums.

    Those statements were vetted by the White House (through the National Security Council), whose explicit interest was to allow commerce and investment to continue in and around Wall Street. At the hearing, Whitman downplayed the significance of a call she had received from a Bush economic adviser who was seeking to reopen the stock market in short order. "We weren't going to let the terrorists win," she noted, prompting the second of several illicit uproars from the audience, despite Nadler's order. She reiterated her contention that the area outside the rubble pile—enclosed by a so-called "green line"—was safe for inhabitants.

    In response, Rep. Nadler suggested that since the law requires asbestos to be disposed of professionally, and that since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had already concluded that dust in the area contained asbestos, implying that residents could safely dispose of that dust themselves might have been a "crime." Whitman ultimately did recommend the use of professional cleaners—in late October, a month and a half after the attacks.

    The other point of contention concerned the workers themselves. Few of them were provided with the shoulder-borne respirators that would have protected them from asbestos, pulverized concrete and other contaminants.

    John Henshaw, who headed OSHA at the time, testified that his office could not compel rescue workers in Manhattan to wear respirators because they were city employees—police officers and firefighters under the purview of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's office, which had not mandated respirators. According to experts at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, today nearly three-quarters of 9/11 first responders have contracted some kind of illness, usually respiratory and often chronic.

    At one point, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) suggested that Whitman, who claims she knew how deadly the inhalants were, could have wrested control of the clean-up effort from the city and insisted that all workers use respirators, as was the standard at the Pentagon. Whitman struggled to address the point, suggesting that she wasn't then certain that she had a legal basis for such a drastic step. She added that she didn't believe the public would have accepted such an incursion from the federal government.

    Outside the hearing room, I spoke with several members of the World Trade Center Rescuers Foundation; officers, firefighters, and EMTs who say they have been forced to retire by of debilitating illnesses caused by their work on the pile. None were impressed with Whitman's performance. Retired Lieutenant Bill Gleason of the New York Fire Department, thin and pale, told me he suffers from hyper-reactive airway disorder. He said he takes $7,000 worth of medication every month and has had seven surgeries—including on his sinuses, lungs, and appendix—since 2002. Detective Michael Valentine, who left the pile in early 2002 and was stationed in neighborhood precincts for three years thereafter, suffers from lymphatic tumors. Both men are under 50, and both claimed that, contrary to the testimony they'd just listened to, working with a full respirator would have been no trouble had they known just what was in the air. Valentine said he never saw an EPA representative during four months at the site, nor was he asked to take preventive measures.

    "She blamed the victim," said Gleason. "If she had stood on the pile and told us how bad it was, she could have saved tens of thousands." Instead, Whitman—who emphasized at the hearing that in a war-like situation it was important "to speak with one voice"—toed the administration's, and Giuliani's, line. As a result, argued Suzanne Mattei, a former New York City Sierra Club executive present at the hearing, the EPA "encouraged people to ignore their own common sense. The air looked bad and smelled bad. Using common sense, many people would have guessed that the air was unsafe for themselves and their children. … The sad irony is that if the EPA had said nothing at all, the public would probably have been better off."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #272
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    Jan 2005
    Ground Zero victims: 'A little too late'

    June 25, 2007, 8:44 PM EDT

    Reggie Hilaire wasn't too interested in tuning in to watch ex-EPA chief Christie Whitman testify before a House panel Monday. Neither were John Feal or Chris Baumann. They said they'd heard it all before.

    The three area residents all worked at or near Ground Zero in the days or months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and each of the men said they didn't expect to learn anything new from Whitman's testimony.

    "I think it's a little too late in the game," Hilaire said. "When it happened, or just after, she should have stepped up and become a leader."

    Hilaire, 36, a New York City cop from Briarwood, Queens, battled through thyroid cancer but now suffers from multiple myeloma.

    Hilaire worked more than 800 hours on security details near Ground Zero and in recovery efforts at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island in the year after 9/11. He wore a protective suit and respirator at the landfill, he said, but wore no protective equipment when he worked near Ground Zero and said he was never told to do so. He said he believes his illnesses were caused by his work.

    Monday, at the congressional hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Whitman said the government instructed workers on the pile to use respirators.

    Since Whitman's infamous comments that the "air is safe to breathe" on Sept. 18, 2001, she's insisted that she was referring to the air in surrounding areas -- not to conditions at the actual pile.

    "She's playing with words," said Baumann, a retired NYPD traffic control officer from Lindenhurst. "The air quality down there was so bad to burn a couple of layers of my eye away. I cannot see how she, with any conscience at all, can say the air quality down there was fine."

    Baumann, 44, said he was on the scene three minutes after a jet hit the North Tower and was partially blind for more than a year after the attacks. He said his lungs are scarred, there's a mass between them that doctors are monitoring and he has post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Feal, 40, of Nesconset, briefly watched Whitman's testimony before becoming agitated by her "excuses." "There's not a word that comes out of her mouth that I believe," Feal said.

    Feal was a demolition supervisor at Ground Zero from Sept. 12 to Sept. 17, 2001, when a steel beam fell on his left foot, and doctors had to amputate half of it, he said. He now runs the FeelGood Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for 9/11 responders.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #273
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    Jan 2005
    Whitman stood up to panel bent on assessing 9/11 blame

    Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/1/07

    Agree with her or not. Like her politics or despise them. But former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman deserves points for going before a congressional panel last week to answer questions about her role and that of the Environmental Protection Agency that she headed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Whitman had to know she hadn't a friend in the room and that the hostile members of Congress were going to be pumped up by an audience stacked with people who were eager to continue to blame her for every health problem encountered since 9/11. Yet, she sat for three hours, answering questions and doing her utmost to fend off the snide comments and accusations that she had lied, failed and bore responsibility for the deteriorating health of hundreds of people who worked in or around the Trade Center rubble.

    For most of the members of the panel, questioning Whitman was an opportunity they relished, even if it was nearly six years later.

    First, they could be ferociously partisan while cloaking themselves in the self-righteous mantle of a quest for truth.

    Second, it didn't require a high concentration of intellectual firepower to come up with questions about arguably the most cataclysmic event in American history.

    Third, it was more high profile than the hearings or committee meetings any of them had ever been a part of.

    To a person, their questions and accusations supported the belief that looking back and criticizing the actions of others in a crisis is far easier and more rewarding than looking forward toward finding answers and solutions.

    After all, for some, their idea of a crisis is waiting an extra 10 minutes for a table in the congressional dining room at lunch hour, or getting a lousy tee time for a lobbyist-financed golf outing.

    They were not at the center of a tragedy so immense it still sends shivers through one's body. None of them was called upon to make rapid and crucial decisions in the midst of unfathomable chaos. None of them was required to make judgments about whether additional and bloodier terrorist attacks were imminent. None of them was subjected to the mind-bending pressures of knowing that each decision could impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

    Whitman was part of an administration that was.

    On Monday, committee members worked themselves into indignation overdrive, postured and played to the cheap seats by attacking her and claiming that she should be held singularly responsible for the illnesses and deaths that have befallen many of those who labored at Ground Zero.

    It was an altogether pitiful performance, exposing some members of the panel as political hacks.

    Whitman testified that her actions and comments with regard to the air quality in the immediate vicinity of Ground Zero were based on evidence and studies submitted by scientists whose expertise exceeded hers, not to mention the members of the committee.

    Her accusers responded by citing medical studies demonstrating that serious respiratory ailments could be traced to the fouled air hanging over the rubble pile. If those studies are valid, the committee — and the public — would have been better served if the scientists advising Whitman had been called to justify their reports.

    That wouldn't, however, have made for the kind of theater the committee obviously sought by calling Whitman and attempting to shift blame and responsibility to the Bush administration generally.

    Whitman stood up under the congressional assault, responded with anger at some points and made clear that the decisions she reached and the actions she took relied on the best information available to her.

    It is, of course, quite easy to look back six years later and argue that things could have and should have been done differently. But, that's what members of Congress are best at, particularly if they can put some cheap political points up on the scoreboard.

    No one has suggested that every decision made in the hours and days immediately following the attacks was the best and correct one. Under the circumstances, that's an impossibility.

    But, it's an insult to the memories of those who died on 9/11, to their families and to those who today suffer ill effects from the attacks to see members of Congress question as if the American government and some of its leaders undertook a deliberate and conscious effort to harm or kill its citizens.

    No one — not President Bush, not Whitman, not members of Congress — is immune from being subjected to criticisms for their deeds. It is, however, the phony indignation, the snide comments, the feigned disbelief that undermine any claim to legitimate criticism.

    Last week's hearing proved that.

    Carl Golden, a Republican strategist and consultant, was director of communications for Gov. Christine Todd Whitman from 1994 to 1997.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #274
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    Jan 2005
    "it's an insult to the memories of those who died on 9/11, to their families and to those who today suffer ill effects from the attacks to see members of Congress question as if the American government and some of its leaders undertook a deliberate and conscious effort to harm or kill its citizens."

    Where have we heard that before?
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #275
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    Jan 2005
    Air of Truth

    Published: July 8, 2007

    IN her recent testimony before the House subcommittee that I lead, Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, played a shell game intended to create confusion about the federal government’s failure to protect rescue workers and others in New York after the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11.

    In the days after the attacks, the agency repeatedly gave blanket assurances about air quality. For example, Mrs. Whitman said on Sept. 18, 2001, that she was “glad to reassure the people of New York” that “their air is safe to breathe.” Such broad assurances contradicted government tests Mrs. Whitman had showing dangerous levels of asbestos both on the World Trade Center site — the so-called pile — and in surrounding neighborhoods. She now says that her statements referred to air quality in Lower Manhattan generally, not to air quality on the pile where rescue personnel were working.

    But Mrs. Whitman’s very first post-9/11 press release, issued on Sept. 13, stated that “monitoring and sampling conducted” had been “very reassuring about potential exposure of rescue crews and the public to environmental contaminants.” If the heart of her defense is that she warned workers of the dangers on the pile and at the same time separately and responsibly reassured residents, this statement undermines both claims. Frankly, the idea that there was a distinction to be made — that the toxic air and dust from the pile was somehow blocked from the residential and commercial buildings across the street — strains credibility.

    Most important, though, her falsely reassuring statements were made at a time when she could not be sure that anyone, on or off the pile, was safe. Her pronouncements contradicted the scant scientific data available. Indeed, 25 percent of the agency’s own dust samples showed asbestos levels even above the 1 percent threshold that the E.P.A. had arbitrarily set, and that was later debunked by the agency’s inspector general who said that no level of asbestos was safe. In addition to the E.P.A.’s testing, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection was showing that 70 percent of ambient air samples contained dangerous levels of asbestos. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Sept. 12 that very little was known about other deadly substances likely to be in the air and dust.

    With more testing, it became clear the air was far from safe, but pressure from the White House kept that information from the public. A Sept. 14 draft of an E.P.A. press release referred to tests showing elevated asbestos levels and expressed concern for workers at the cleanup site and for employees who would be returning to their offices “on or near Water Street” on Sept. 17. The White House deleted that warning and replaced it with: “Our tests show that it is safe for New Yorkers to go back to work in New York’s financial district.”

    For average New Yorkers living and working downtown, it was an outright lie; for rescue workers, it was a lie of omission. Mrs. Whitman testified that while the E.P.A. consulted with the White House on all press releases, neither she nor her top staff members knew who in the White House gave final approval for the changes.

    In her testimony, Mrs. Whitman attempted to further confuse the public by making spurious distinctions like implying that high levels of asbestos in dust would have no effect on the safety of breathing the air. But the record is clear: in instance after instance following the attack on the World Trade Center, Mrs. Whitman gave irresponsible reassurances, either over the objections of scientists urging her to wait for more data or in contravention of clear evidence before her.

    No wonder the E.P.A.’s own inspector general concluded that the agency’s early statements about air quality were falsely reassuring, lacked a scientific basis and were motivated by White House concerns other than public health — and that, as a result, people were unnecessarily exposed to deadly contaminants. To this day, according to the Government Accountability Office, the E.P.A. cannot reasonably conclude that a single building in Lower Manhattan is free of pollutants from the collapse of the towers.

    We must ascertain why the federal government failed to protect the public and worsened a calamity. And we must provide for a proper inspection and cleanup of indoor spaces contaminated by the World Trade Center collapse and for long-term, comprehensive health care for the thousands of people who are already ill as a result of exposure to the pollutants.

    Perhaps the most shocking data Mrs. Whitman selectively ignored when she testified was a 2006 Mount Sinai Hospital study that shows 70 percent of the first 9,000 workers examined reported some kind of respiratory problem after working on the pile. Thousands of people are suffering, at least in part, because of our government’s failures following 9/11, yet those responsible ignore the outcome just as they ignored the warnings.

    And, just days after our hearing, the Government Accountability Office reported that the Environmental Protection Agency used the same playbook of lies about asbestos and air quality in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, four years after 9/11.

    We can’t change history, but it is our government’s responsibility to admit mistakes and plan better for the future. Mrs. Whitman’s refusal to assume any culpability for error does nothing to ensure the same won’t happen again. Indeed, it may already have.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #276
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    Jan 2005
    Report: 9/11 Firefighters Battling Thyroid Cancer

    July 08, 2007

    A staggering number of FDNY firefighters are now reportedly suffering from a cancer that may be linked to their work at the World Trade Center site.

    The New York Post reports at least eight firefighters have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer over the past five years.

    The paper says another five have had their thyroids either fully or partially removed because of abnormal cell growth that could lead to cancer. Attorney David Worby tells the paper that many of the firefighters were 9/11 first responders.

    The National Cancer Institute says usually only four out of every 100,000 men get diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It is a more common form of cancer in women.

    The Post cites the United Firefighters Association as saying at least 125 firefighters who worked at the site have contracted some type of cancer since the attacks.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #277
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    Jan 2005
    Doo Wop show for a great cause

    Thursday, July 5, 2007 4:51 PM CDT

    Want to hear Doo Wop artists that make you “FealGood,” and enjoy a concert designed to help many 9/11 First Responders and their families?

    Friend Entertainment, Ltd., along with the FealGood Foundation, will be hosting a “Doo-Wop for the First Responders of 9/11” concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 21 at Queens College's Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts/Colden Auditorium.

    All of the profits from the show will go to foundations for the families of the First Responders of 9/11, said Norman Wasserman, creator of Friend Entertainment.

    The concert will include performances by original Doo-Wop artists: Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, The Duprees, Frankie Lymon's “Legendary” Teenagers, Jay Siegel and The Tokens, Vito Picone and The Elegants and Cleveland Still and The Dubs, according to Wasserman, who began the fund-raising organization 19 years ago.

    Friend Entertainment organizes concerts for all kinds of events from New York to Las Vegas with mostly Doo-Wop and Motown acts, but this one, held at Queens College's Colden Center is a perfect venue because of its size and its “central location” to New Jersey, Manhattan and Long Island, Wasserman explained.

    John Feal, creator of the FealGood Foundation, is the mastermind behind the First Responders Concert.

    Feal was a construction worker who began demolition at the World Trade Center site on September 12. On September 17, an 8,000-pound steal beam fell on and crushed his left foot. He was hospitalized for 11 weeks and lost his foot.

    “For a year, I was depressed and suicidal,” like many others who were injured at Ground Zero, Feal, explained. He tried to get worker's comp and appealed to the 9/11 relief fund, but he was turned down.

    In 2003, he decided, “To stop feeling sorry for [him]self,” and devoted his life to making sure that 9/11 victims and their families received the care that they desperately need.

    “It's time for people to help each other,” said Feal, who will also be donating a kidney to a man he met through his organization. “As a country, we took one on the chin and moved forward,” he explained, “but we cannot forget who we left behind.”

    The FealGood Foundation, a non-profit organization Feal created to educate the public about the health effects of 9/11 First Responders, and gives 100 percent of their donations to First Responders to victims and their families, was born out of that determination to help others.

    First Responders are anyone that was at Ground Zero, said Feal, “cops, firefighters, EMS, EMT, even civilians that were effected by 9/11 - we don't discriminate.

    “This is no way for heroes to be treated,” he said of the men and women who worked tirelessly at Ground Zero - many even giving their lives.

    Feal contacted Wasserman about the concert, he explained, as a way for the organization to “step it up a notch and make it bigger,” to help all who were affected. Along with other apparel, the foundation will also be selling limited edition Doo-Wop t-shirts on its web site,

    “We're at 6 years, and its catastrophic now,” he explained of the problems 9/11 victims and their families deal with, and of the lack of help they receive. “Usually fundraising is a lot smaller,” he said about the organization. “We wanted to help on a bigger scale.”

    Feal plans to hold another concert in December, and next year make them a more regular event.

    The July 21 concert will be held at the Colden Auditorium of the Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts at Queens College. Tickets are $40, $45 and $50 and can be purchased through the Colden Center box office at 718-793-8080, the FeelGood Foundation at 631-724-3320 or Friend Entertainment at 631-698-9696.

    For more information, visit or
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #278
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    Jan 2005
    Wield Your Mighty Pen for Us, Mr. President

    By 9/11 first responder John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation

    NEW YORK -- A pen in my hands could make some difference in the lives around me, and I work through the FealGood Foundation to make sure the documents I sign relieve some of the suffering of my fellow 9/11 responders. If I could, I would use my pen as you used yours last week. I would save my buddies.

    In commuting the prison sentence of your friend Scooter, you said you believed the sentence imposed was too severe. Boy, can I relate.

    When I look at the life sentences imposed on 9/11 responders suffering with acute illness, financial and emotional ruin and nearly six long years of neglect by their city, state and federal government leaders, I fill with rage and frustration. You've seen some of us in 'SiCKO,' so I know you are aware of our plight. My pen can only relieve tiny bits of their suffering. Yours could lift much more.

    In an instant, Mr. President, you could use your mighty pen to affirm the faith you put in all of us in the hours, days, weeks and months after 9/11 to be what you called heroes and send a message to the world that Americans stand together in the face of threat.

    With one stroke, you could issue and sign an executive order that would open clinic and hospital doors to 9/11 responders who are ill and without life-saving medical care.

    Do you understand the betrayal of trust and confidence we feel? Just as Scooter took the hit for others in your circle of friends, my brothers and sisters took the dust and debris, the shock and the danger, the toxins and the smoke for everyone in America as we worked at ground zero so long ago.

    We need you to feel for us – the folks you called out as heroes – the same passion and compassion that made you reach for your pen for Scooter. We need your help and we need it now. We have served a long sentence already. We have been punished for our actions on 9/11. We do not understand exactly what the crimes were in rushing in to help, nor do we understand how you can turn your back on us still. We were there with you. We believed what you told us. We trusted you with our lives.

    So, Mr. President, won’t you please lift that pen again as you have done for Scooter Libby? The order could be simple, as a start:

    “All 9/11 responders from this day forward shall be entitled to the care they need. A violation of this order will not be tolerated. These men and women are to be treated in every way as heroes, not unlike U.S. soldiers on the battlefield.” -- Signed...

    A signature today would save lives. It would save dignity. It might even tell the world that you are a man of your word, and that a contract made with your nation’s heroes is not to be broken. Please use your pen today. Many lives depend on it.

    A picture may be worth a thousand words, but your signature on this action may well be worth more than a thousand lives. Stand aside, Scooter, your president has some more commutations to issue. And the 9/11 responders are finally first in line.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #279
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    Jan 2005
    Lawsuit Filed Against Company Overseeing 9/11 Insurance Fund
    Sick Ground Zero Workers Want Their Money

    Created: Tuesday, 17 Jul 2007, 7:33 AM EDT

    MYFOXNY.COM -- New York -- Ailing ground zero workers are going to court to demand that the company overseeing a $1B September Eleventh insurance fund spend the money to pay for their health care.

    The workers have already filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the toxic dust from the World Trade Center site gave them serious, sometimes fatal diseases.

    The latest action, expected to be filed today, seeks compensation from the company in charge of money appropriated by Congress to deal with September Eleventh health-related claims.

    Attorneys for the workers argue that federal officials meant for the money in the WTC Captive Insurance Co. to be used as compensation for sick workers.

    City officials have long said that the money must be first used to litigate claims before any are paid out.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #280
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    Jan 2005


    July 17, 2007 -- The $1 billion insurance fund set up for the World Trade Center cleanup has violated its congressional mandate to pay legitimate worker-injury claims and "squandered" millions on expenses, an explosive lawsuit is charging.

    Controlled by Mayor Bloomberg, the WTC Captive Insurance Co. and its agents have "unethically profited" from the federal fund, draining money available for ill workers, alleges the suit, to be filed today in Manhattan Supreme Court.

    The WTC insurance fund has spent close to $74 million on overhead and legal bills so far - but paid just $45,000 to one worker who fell off a ladder.

    While letting the fund pay fat salaries and fees to its employees, consultants and lawyers, the mayor has wrongly exploited the unit to fight claims by thousands of workers with illnesses blamed on toxic exposure, the suit says.

    "Congress gave Bloomberg a billion dollars to cover for the mistakes he and his predecessor, Mayor Giuliani, made in failing to protect tens of thousands of workers," lawyer David Worby said. "Now, adding insult to injury, he refuses to use the funds intended for that exact purpose - to help the sick and dying 9/11 heroes."

    The suit will be filed by Worby Groner & Napoli Bern, a law firm already battling the city in a class-action negligence suit on behalf of nearly 10,000 ill WTC responders.

    The plaintiffs in the new suit are former NYPD Detective John Walcott, who has leukemia, NYPD Detective Frank Maisano, who has severe lung disease, and Mary Bishop, a St. Vincent's Hospital worker with cancer, lung and digestive diseases.

    "If it wasn't for the rescue workers and volunteers, our city would be in chaos," said Walcott, 42, whose daughter was an infant when he was diagnosed in 2003. "How can Mayor Bloomberg justify not releasing the funds Congress gave us when he could save lives and homes and families?"

    Besides the fund and Bloomberg, the suit names the outfit's five-member board of directors - all appointed by Bloomberg - and Christine LaSala, the company's president and CEO.

    LaSala rakes in a salary of $350,000 a year, plus $20,000 in health benefits.

    Citing city records, the suit traces the firm back to its origin to prove its claim that Bloomberg has twisted its mission.

    In May 2002, the city made a request to feds, saying "toxic chemicals emanating from the WTC debris site" made insurance "absolutely vital to protect the city and its contractors."

    Congress appropriated $1 billion through FEMA.

    Then-Gov. George Pataki pushed a bill to create the nonprofit firm to manage the fund. "This legislation is necessary for the city to expedite the payment of claims," Pataki and Giuliani said in a 2003 press release.

    At a meeting in December 2004, minutes show, LaSala declared the firm's main purpose was to disburse the fund "in an equitable manner that maximizes compensation to those parties who suffered damages as a result of the WTC debris removal program."

    Overall, the WTC fund has spent $73.8 million as of March 31, including $45.7 million on law firms, records show.

    Much of the money has been poured into an ongoing court battle in which the city contends it has immunity from all WTC suits because it was responding to a terror attack.

    Other expenses include $8.5 million paid to GAB Robbins, a risk-management firm, for "claims adjusting." But the firm has done little adjusting, the suit says - WTC Captive Insurance has refused to review the medical records of sick workers.

    LaSala has said the firm has a "duty to defend" the city and its WTC contractors, and has "faithfully followed its mandate."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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