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Thread: Liberty Enlightening the World (Statue of Liberty)

  1. #31
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    Ups...Do I see a new episode of a big trial in NYC again?

  2. #32


    New York Newsday
    April 5, 2004

    Mayor: Statue should reopen completely

    The Associated Press

    A week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended a ceremony in which federal officials announced that the Statue of Liberty would remain closed to visitors, he said Monday the statue should be reopened, even if each tourist is escorted by a police officer.

    The 118-year-old statue has been closed since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for security reasons. "You can't let the terrorists win," the mayor said Monday.

    Last week during a news conference at the base of the statue on Liberty Island, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton said that an observation area in the statue's pedestal would be reopened but that the crown, reached via narrow and winding stairs, would remain closed because it cannot accommodate large numbers of people and does not meet local fire, building or safety codes.

    Bloomberg, who contributed $100,000 of his own money to help finance upgrades that will allow the pedestal to be reopened this summer, spoke at the press conference but said nothing about the need to allow public access to the national monument.
    On Monday, however, the mayor blasted the federal government's decision to close the statue and its plans not to reopen it.

    "I didn't think they should close the Statue of Liberty, period," Bloomberg said. "This is a symbol of America. Come on, let's stand up and have some guts. If we have to have the security people there, let's do it, but let's get it open." He said there are ways to provide more security.

    "If you have to have a police officer standing next to every single person going in there," he said, "that's a better way to do it."

    The New York Times reported Monday that the inspector general of the U.S. Department of the Interior is seeking to determine why the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation launched a $7 million fund-raising campaign for the reopening when it already had a $30 million endowment.

    The private foundation's president, Stephen Briganti, did not return a call seeking comment Monday. But he has said the group's policy is not to use its endowment to pay for major projects.

    The Times said the statue has been closed so long even as other national monuments have reopened after Sept. 11 because the National Park Service, unsure it wanted to reopen the statue, did not ask Congress for money.

    At the press conference last week, Norton said the statue has been closed because an examination of the interior after the World Trade Center attack revealed potential fire and security problems and insufficient exits.

    On Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Committee on Finance, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., sent letters to Norton, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and interior department Inspector General Earl Devaney, saying the committee intended to investigate the foundation's activities.

    "I'm very concerned by reports that are surfacing that it was the foundation's fiscal mismanagement, rather than overarching security concerns, that have caused the delay," Baucus said. "I'm further concerned that the National Park Service did not step forward and ask Congress for help once it became apparent to them that the foundation was failing its mission. If we find that the reports of the foundation turn out to be true, serious action will need to be taken regarding private entities having virtual control over the public's property."

    The National Park Service, which operates Liberty Island and the statue, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

    When the pedestal reopens -- possibly in July -- screening procedures, much like those at airports, and a reservation system to reduce long lines will be in place.

    Liberty Island was closed for 100 days after Sept. 11, 2001.

    Airport-type metal detectors were installed to screen visitors boarding the ferry to the island from lower Manhattan, and the island was then reopened in December 2001.

    Since the Sept. 11 attack, the number of visitors to Liberty Island has dropped by 40 percent. Still, more than 4 million people have visited since then.

    Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

  3. #33


    April 6, 2004

    Senate Committee Seeks Statue of Liberty Foundation's Records


    A Senate committee that oversees charities' compliance with the nation's tax laws requested records yesterday of contracts, staff salaries and other financial information from the nonprofit foundation managing the reopening of the Statue of Liberty.

    The Finance Committee, prompted by reports that the statue's opening had been stalled because of governmental delays and fund-raising by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, wants the foundation to justify staff salaries that exceed $100,000 and explain any contracts that were awarded without competitive bidding.

    In addition, the committee asked the Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Service, the caretaker of the statue, to turn over all documents pertaining to the service's dealings with the foundation for the last five years. The Park Service agreed last year to give the foundation sole responsibility for the reopening project.

    "The agency might have given too much control of a prized national asset to a private foundation," Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who heads the committee, said in a statement.

    "We need to figure out the relationship between the federal agency and the private foundation so this kind of standstill doesn't happen again," he said. "While the agency and foundation waste time, millions of Americans and aspiring Americans are denied decent access to our greatest beacon of freedom."

    The Finance Committee's request for information signaled the second inquiry known to be under way into the foundation and its relationship with the Park Service. The inspector general's office in the Interior Department is also conducting an investigation.

    Peg Zitko, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said her group kept the Park Service informed of its activities. The foundation files quarterly financial reports with the agency, and a representative from the Interior Department "almost certainly" takes part in meetings of the foundation's 20-member board, which convenes about twice a year, she said.

    She said that the foundation was proud of its work over the years on behalf of the monument, and that she was confident about the outcome of any inquiries. "The foundation is very happy to cooperate," she said. "There are a lot of misperceptions out there about this project and foundation's role in it."

    A spokeswoman for the Park Service did not respond to messages seeking comment.

    Meanwhile, there were fresh expressions of concern yesterday about the handling of the reopening project from, among others, a member of the foundation's board and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

    USA Today reported yesterday that its editor, Karen Jurgensen, resigned from the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's board after reading an article in The New York Times on Sunday about delays in the reopening of the statue.

    Ms. Jurgensen, who joined the board last summer, said she had been "unaware of the decisions behind the fund-raising campaign that was under way when she agreed to join the board," USA Today reported. She told the newspaper she resigned to avoid any conflicts because USA Today would be reporting on the issue.

    Mr. Bloomberg, who responded to the foundation's fund-raising appeal last year with a personal donation of $100,000, told reporters yesterday that he believed the statue should have been opened long ago. He attributed the delay to the Park Service's wavering on whether it wanted to allow public access to the statue, after it reopened the grounds of Liberty Island in December 2001.

    "I didn't think they should close the Statue of Liberty, period," the mayor said. "This is a symbol of America. Come on, let's stand up and have some guts! If we have to add some security people there, let's do it, but let's get it open."

    An aide to the mayor said his comments reflected frustration over the controversy that has erupted, less than a week after Mr. Bloomberg was asked by Interior Department officials to take part in an announcement last Tuesday that the statue's base would reopen this summer. The department should have known that trouble was brewing, the aide said, given that its inspector general was already investigating the project and a city newspaper, amNew York, had reported on the foundation's finances.

    The foundation has more than $30 million in an endowment for the maintenance and preservation of the statue and Ellis Island, but decided not to use it to pay for the improvements needed to reopen the statue's base. The work primarily involves the addition of an emergency exit and improvements to fire safety systems, and was initially expected to cost $2.3 million.

    To pay for the work, the foundation launched a $5 million fund-raising campaign, whose goal has since climbed to $7 million. Construction work, expected to take about four months to complete, had not started as of last week.

    The foundation's president, Stephen A. Briganti, has said that he has been awaiting approval from the Interior Department to begin work, which was only granted within the last week or so. He has defended the decision to not finance the project with endowment money, saying it should be preserved as a source of investment income to support smaller-scale projects.

    A member of the Senate Finance Committee staff, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "We've been looking for some time at this issue of accountability among the charities that the Park Service works with, and what we're seeing with the Statue of Liberty raises the same question of, 'Who's minding the store?' "

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  4. #34


    New York Daily News
    April 6, 2004

    Open Lady Liberty, all of Lady Liberty

    Readers of the Daily News dug deep into their pockets and contributed $60,000 toward reopening the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of U.S. resilience following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. What they and thousands of other donors are getting instead is the right to visit the Stump of Liberty, and that's not good enough.

    The federal government is letting Americans down by decreeing that visitors will be limited to touring the statue's base when the monument opens its doors again in a few months. Making the inspirational climb to the crown, as millions from around the world did pre-9/11, will be forbidden.

    So saith Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, whose department has shamefully allowed the country's most enduring symbol to remain shuttered for 2-1/2 years and relied far too heavily on charity to get even part of it opened. Not that New Yorkers mind doing their bit. That's why they contributed so generously to the special fund-raising drive by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. Now, they deserve their money's worth.

    There are, we are supposed to believe, safety concerns. Previously, terror attacks were cited. That cowardice not playing well, Norton now says the statue must stay closed because it can't handle crowds and does not meet local, fire, building or safety codes.

    Gee. Large crowds happily tramped up and down the two winding staircases for more than 100 years without panicking at the thought of fire, pestilence or plague. As for alleged code violations, why has this suddenly become a problem? Perhaps Norton would like to erect fire escapes around Miss Liberty? How about around the Washington Monument. At 555 feet, it is considerably taller than the statue, and it is open to the public.

    In any case, the guy who oversees all the local codes - Mayor Bloomberg - is as unhappy as the rest of the populace with the feds' handing victory to terrorists. Which, no matter what they babble about codes and such, is exactly what they are doing. Surrendering. In the name of all of us. No matter how distasteful we find that.

    The statue, said Bloomberg yesterday, "is a symbol of America. Come on, let's stand up and have some guts." Meaning let it be opened from ground to crown - as it always has been.

    Copyright 2004 Daily News, L.P.

  5. #35


    April 7, 2004

    Lady Liberty Held Hostage

    The Statue of Liberty has always had a special place in American hearts, and when private donors were asked to pitch in to help make sure it was reopened after 9/11, the money poured in. While the donors should be celebrated for their generosity, this sort of basic caretaking at a national monument should have been done by the government. The statue's reopening has turned into an embarrassment for the Interior Department, and the most troubling aspect is what it says about the chronic underfinancing of the national park system.

    Like other vulnerable landmarks, the statue was shut down after the terrorist attacks. The National Park Service then spent $19 million on security-related projects, which allowed the public to return to Ellis Island and Liberty Island by the end of 2001. But rather than do the work needed to reopen the statue itself, it turned the task of making the necessary safety improvements over to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The base will be reopened in August once the fixes are made.

    The foundation, created to raise money for the statue's centennial in 1986, has a $30 million endowment. Critics wonder why it didn't tap that money to make the improvements instead of exploiting the project to begin a fund-raising campaign. But the bigger question is why the government dallied and why it turned to the foundation for a job that was part of its basic responsibilities.

    The answers are not reassuring. Congress and the executive branch have been nickle-and-diming the parks for years, creating a $5 billion maintenance backlog that President Bush, despite stirring campaign promises, has hardly dented. The operating budget is also starved. The net result has been an emerging codependence between the Park Service and the private foundations formed to help the parks, with the foundations doing more and more essential work as public financing slips behind.

    These foundations were designed to support extra services, not the critical missions that lie at the heart of the Park Service's responsibility. And if one were drawing up a list of such critical missions, one would surely include the reopening of the Statute of Liberty among them.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  6. #36

    April 8, 2004

    Wal-Mart Suspends Fundraising for Statue of Liberty

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer, said it would suspend fundraising activities for restoring public access to the Statue of Liberty until investigations of the private foundation supporting the effort are completed, a company spokeswoman said.

    "We will not be doing any fundraising activities at our stores or clubs, or making any corporate match until the investigations that are taking place regarding the Statue of Liberty foundation is resolved,'' Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sarah Clark said in a telephone interview. The company had pledged to contribute as much as $1.5 million in matching funds.

    Clark said Wal-Mart decided to reverse its policy on the fundraising campaign. She had said yesterday that the company wanted to continue backing the drive by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, whose management of efforts to partly reopen the monument is under investigation by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the U.S. Department of Interior's inspector general and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

    Those investigations followed reports in the New York Times and another newspaper, amNew York, that the foundation set out to raise $7 million for the statue without tapping its endowment -- worth more than four times that much -- and that it paid its president, Stephen Briganti, 62, a salary of $345,000 a year. The fundraising drive's corporate backers have included Wal-Mart, American Express Co. and Procter & Gamble Co.

    "We wanted to wait until the investigations were completed to see what was discovered at that point,'' said Clark, the Wal- Mart spokeswoman.

    The Interior Department last week announced plans to allow the public by July to enter the statue's base after safety and security improvements are completed. The public, formerly used to be allowed to climb stairs inside the statue as well as visit the base, has been barred from the monument in the 2 1/2 years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Copyright 2004 Bloomberg L.P.

  7. #37


    April 11, 2004

    The Benefactors of Miss Liberty (3 Letters)

    To the Editor:

    In "Lady Liberty Held Hostage" (editorial, April 7), you say the government should bear the cost and responsibility for reopening the Statue of Liberty.

    On the contrary: befitting of its name, the statue was a private gift paid for by French citizens of their own accord. Likewise, the pedestal was bought with private funds, given voluntarily by patriotic Americans.

    Now, even though charitable donations have once again been raised for her benefit, you call for Lady Liberty to be financed by taxpayers.

    The irony is sublime!

    Cambridge, Mass., April 7, 2004

    To the Editor:

    Regarding the overzealous fund-raising and excessive salaries paid by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the delays in reopening the statue to the public (news article, April 6):

    It seems that the only thing less efficient than government bureaucracy is the performance of government functions by a private foundation with little public accountability or oversight, and no institutional interest beyond paying its principals large salaries and extending its mandate to do so for as long as humanly possible.

    New York, April 7, 2004

    To the Editor:

    In "Extra Fund-Raising Stalled Statue of Liberty Reopening" (front page, April 4), you link the timing of the Statue of Liberty's reopening to the fund-raising by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

    In fact, only the National Park Service controls when and how the statue is opened, not the foundation, which has done everything it has been asked to do by the federal government in connection with restoring the statue while accounting for every dollar raised and spent.

    Since 1982, we have restored the statue and produced a celebration for her 100th anniversary; revitalized Ellis Island and established its renowned immigration museum and history center; and created an important genealogical research Web site with more than six billion hits to date. And we created an endowment that generates income for important maintenance at the monument.

    All of these successes have been achieved with minimal staff and little fanfare while focusing our attention on tangible results for the public good.

    New York, April 8, 2004
    The writer is chairman of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  8. #38


    April 15, 2004


    Rescuing the Lady, by Boat


    THE answer to the Statue of Liberty's money problems is staring New York right in its face. In bright orange.

    The Lady needs money for improvements and better security, as all the world must know by now, and has turned to the public for contributions.

    This generated a recent fuss, because the National Park Service didn't pay for the improvements, instead turning to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. And because the foundation tapped contributors instead of its $30 million endowment.

    The Park Service has shown no inclination to change its position. And while spending the endowment would seem an easy solution, most foundations, charities and cultural organizations decline to dip into their endowments, citing fiduciary responsibility.

    They treat endowments as their core asset, investing them and spending only the income they generate, usually for operating expenses. For instance, Lincoln Center just announced a $325 million redevelopment plan. Lincoln Center Inc., which will be responsible for just more than half of that, has an endowment of $140 million. "We have no intention of using endowment money for the project," Lincoln Center's president, Reynold Levy, said yesterday. "We are underendowed as an arts organization. Arts institutions run at a deficit." And most of the $140 million has spending restrictions on it.

    And a few months ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it wanted to expand its fund-raising campaign by $250 million for construction projects, $75 million of it to expand the museum's $1.7 billion endowment, to finance operation of the new spaces. The $1.7 billion will remain intact.

    Institutions should be more flexible, critics say. "The typical practice in philanthropy is to protect your endowment, but we say you needn't be so conservative in your spending," said Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. He advises some institutions to tap their endowments. But that is not standard practice, and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is no exception.

    "Our board has considered the endowment inviolate, from a fiduciary responsibility and from the matter of the spirit in which it was raised," said the foundation's president, Stephen A. Briganti. Starting in 1982, he said, the foundation raised the endowment money, pledging to preserve at least $20 million. It has spent about $1 million of the endowment a year on maintenance projects and visitor amenities, but to maintain the principal, it has deliberately relied on fund-raising for larger projects.

    Today, the foundation is about $1.1 million short of the $7 million it says it needs for the statue, and the statue will always need resources. Why not turn to a reliable source of income? The Staten Island Ferry.

    THE ferry is a potential windfall for the Lady. Last week, during spring break, the bright orange boats were so packed with tourists that the regulars seemed ready to swim. "It's free?" said a stunned-looking visitor from Chevy Chase, Md., standing in the Whitehall Terminal last Thursday with her husband and two young daughters.

    Her family had planned to take the Circle Line ferry ($10 an adult ticket, $4 for children) to Liberty Island. It is open to visitors, and by midsummer, people should be able to climb to the top of the statue's pedestal, though not to its crown. But the wait to board a Liberty Island boat was nearly two hours last week, compared with a half-hour at most for the ferry to Staten Island. And as ever, it passes the statue on each leg of its 25-minute trips, close enough to see her brooding face.

    "It's still the best ride in the City of New York," said Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, revealing that her first date with her future husband (Senator Charles E. Schumer) was a round-trip ferry ride at dusk.

    They've been married 23 years.

    The ferry ride - 5 cents in 1897 - rose to 10 cents in 1972 and 25 cents in 1975. It doubled in 1990, but when he was running for re-election in 1997, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani eliminated the 50-cent fare. And another mayoral election is coming up.

    O.K., why not at least charge the tourists - as many as 5 million of the 19 million annual ferry riders?

    Ms. Weinshall laughed. How to distinguish tourist from nontourist? "If this columnist can figure out how we can do it, we'd love to talk to her about it."

    She's working on it. Must be possible in the era of the MetroCard - and easier, for sure, than debating fiduciary policy.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  9. #39


    Yahoo! Finance
    April 23, 2004

    Blue Ribbon Committee to Conduct Independent Review of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

    William F. May, chairman of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc., announced today that Judge Griffin B. Bell, former Attorney General of the United States, has agreed to Chair a special, blue-ribbon committee that will conduct a full and independent review of all issues raised by recent press coverage of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

    Joining Judge Bell will be Robert Fiske, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Robert McGuire, former New York City Police Commissioner; G. G. Michelson, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of Columbia University and Russell Reynolds founder of the national executive search firm that bears his name.

    "The Foundation's Board has authorized the Independent Review Committee to look into all issues that Committee deems appropriate," said Mr. May. "We have asked for a thorough, full and independent review, and a written report that addresses all of the issues raised in recent press accounts."

    The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, working in partnership with the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. In addition to restoring the monuments, the Foundation created a museum in the Statue's base and the world-class Ellis Island Immigration Museum, The American Immigrant Wall of Honor® and the American Family Immigration History Center(TM) and saved and restored a total of five buildings on Ellis Island. The Foundation promised to its donors in the 1980s and established in 1993 an endowment under the auspices of its board of directors that would annually help maintain the work the Foundation had done on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and enhance the visitor experience for years to come. Since the endowment's inception, proceeds from its principal have funded over 200 projects at the islands for a total of $12.3 million. Currently the Foundation is spearheading a campaign to fund critical safety improvements at the Statue of Liberty so that she may again reopen her doors to the public, closed since September 11, 2001.

    Copyright 2004 Yahoo! Inc.

  10. #40


    NY1 News
    June 14, 2004

    Disaster Drill To Be Held On Ellis Island

    To prepare for the reopening of the Statue of Liberty next month, federal authorities are holding a disaster drill on Ellis Island Monday.

    The exercise is similar to other exercises held in the city, like one at Shea Stadium.

    The National Park Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the city’s Office of Emergency Management will train some 50 workers to search for and rescue victims. They will also learn how to put out fires and give first aid under disaster conditions.

    The Statue of Liberty, which has been closed to visitors since the September 11, 2001, attacks, is set to reopen on the Fourth of July, following safety and security upgrades. The island itself reopened three months after the terrorist attacks, but tourists have not been allowed inside the statue. When it reopens, visitors will only be able to tour the museum and take the elevator into the pedestal, and the stairs to Lady Liberty's crown will remain off-limits.

    Copyright © 2004 NY1 News

  11. #41


    June 30, 2004

    Statue of Liberty to reopen in August

    NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Statue of Liberty, which has been closed to the public since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, is set to partially reopen on August 3, Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced Wednesday.

    The reopening will allow visitors to tour the base of the statue, which houses a museum, but access to the statue itself will remain off limits.

    Prior to the attacks, visitors could climb to the monument's crown.

    The Interior Department said visitors will be allowed to gaze up into the statue's internal structure through a glass ceiling if accompanied by a park ranger.

    The partial reopening was first revealed in March by park officials who testified at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

    The officials declined to give specifics, saying they did not want to usurp Norton's authority.

    But under questioning from lawmakers, National Park Service Deputy Director Don Murphy said a $7 million contribution from the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation had helped security, health and safety enhancements at the site.

    The site's grounds were closed after the attacks but have since reopened.

    © 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.

  12. #42


    July 1, 2004

    Statue of Liberty Pedestal to Reopen Aug. 3


    Visitors will be able to again enter the Statue of Liberty on Aug. 3, after being closed for nearly three years of safety and security improvements, the National Parks Service said yesterday.

    Although visitors will not be able to climb to the crown on the statue's head, they will have access to the observation deck at the top of the statue's pedestal, 154 feet above the ground. A glass ceiling at the top of the pedestal will allow visitors to see inside the statue, the service said in a statement.

    The staircase to the crown will remain closed, because it doesn't meet current safety and security standards.

    To eliminate long lines, the service said it will begin to take reservations for tours on July 22. The telephone number will soon be posted on its Web site, , the service said. Reservations by Internet will be available by September.

    Liberty Island was closed to visitors after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; although the island reopened in December 2001, the public has not been allowed into the statue while security upgrades were undertaken.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  13. #43


    July 31, 2004

    Senate Panel Faults Handling of Funds at Statue of Liberty


    The Statue of Liberty is scheduled to partially reopen on Tuesday.

    A nonprofit charity that solicits donations for the Statue of Liberty pays its executives excessively high salaries, has done a poor job overseeing the millions of dollars it collects and has tried to undermine the efforts of other organizations to raise money for the preservation and operation of the national monument, according to Congressional investigators.

    The Senate Finance Committee began examining the work of the charity, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, in April after news reports, including articles in The New York Times, raised questions about the organization's role in efforts to partially reopen the statue after it was closed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The articles reported that the foundation had chosen not to finance the reopening with its $30 million endowment, but rather mount a national fund-raising effort.

    Committee officials said yesterday that some of their initial findings were troubling, and they sent a letter yesterday to the foundation demanding answers to a number of questions about its spending, the work of its board of directors and the accuracy of some statements made to donors during the fund-raising campaign. The committee said its work would continue.

    In a statement yesterday, the foundation did not address the specific questions raised in the Senate committee's letter, but said it would continue cooperating with the investigation. It noted that it had already turned over reams of records, and was confident that the committee would conclude that "the foundation has conducted itself in an entirely appropriate manner and in accordance with the highest standards."

    The Finance Committee's actions came as the foundation released its own commissioned report on its operations. The report, which the foundation paid for, concluded that its fund-raising had not unduly delayed the reopening, now set for Aug. 3. The report found that the charity had done good work over the years, had exercised admirable caution in protecting its endowment and had not usurped control of the monument, which is managed by the National Park Service.

    The report, prepared by a panel headed by Griffin B. Bell, the former United States attorney general, did find common ground with the Senate committee's inquiry on the issue of the pay packages for the foundation's top executives: both concluded that the packages could not be justified.

    Mr. Bell found that the foundation's president, Stephen A. Briganti, had years ago struck an agreement with the board's chairman that allowed him to earn hundreds of thousand of dollars in additional income by working one day a week as an independent consultant to other nonprofits. The report said that this arrangement, which some board members were unaware of, boosted the effective pay rate for Mr. Briganti in excess of his regular salary, which exceeded $300,000 last year.

    Mr. Bell's panel also concluded that the foundation, created in 1982 to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty after years of neglect, needed to reassess its mission, role and future, and take steps to improve its overall management structure.

    In addition to concerns about salaries, the congressional investigators raised concerns about certain expenses the foundation had incurred, such as $45,000 a year for a dog to chase geese away on the islands, and a recent licensing agreement they said the foundation entered into allowing a company to market whiskey in bottles shaped like the Statue of Liberty.

    The Senate committee said that the findings make clear that the foundation is poorly run.

    "The Statue of Liberty Foundation board was too often AWOL or uninformed in managing the foundation and ensuring that charitable donations were being used appropriately," Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a statement. "I'm concerned that the foundation's board may not have been in compliance with tax laws, or even its own bylaws, when it approved high salaries for foundation executives."

    In their respective inquiries, the Finance Committee, which oversees the compliance of charities with the nation's tax laws, and the foundation's panel obtained thousands of pages of documents from the foundation and interviewed officials at the foundation, the National Park Service and Department of Interior.

    The Bell report concluded, based on its review, that The Times had erred in a front-page article last April that asserted that the foundation's decision to finance the reopening of the statue through fund-raising had delayed the project.

    The report said that construction work on the reopening had not begun until April of this year because Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton had not signed off on the project until then. Ms. Norton has said that the fund-raising drive did not delay the timing of her approval.

    "The committee found no evidence that the foundation was responsible for any delay in the reopening," the report said.

    But a park service official involved in the reopening, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the decision by the foundation to raise money for the reopening inevitably meant the process would take more time. And that decision, the official said, was made well before the final plan reached Ms. Norton's desk for approval.

    Indeed, in an interview yesterday, Mr. Bell agreed that the decision to raise money could have had an effect on the pace of the park service's deliberations on plans for the safety and security improvements necessary for the reopening, which went on for months.

    "Yes, that does make sense," Mr. Bell said. "Both stories might be correct. I don't doubt that that had something to do with it."

    Still, Mr. Bell yesterday stood by the report's conclusion that the foundation's fund-raising was not the cause of any delay.

    But Mr. Grassley said the committee had found material in the foundation's records that appeared to contradict the organization's public claim that the fund-raising did not affect the pace of the reopening effort.

    He said one foundation document, a set of talking points for the fund-raising campaign, says, in response to the question of when the monument will reopen: "The sooner we can raise the money through this campaign, the sooner the work can be completed."

    "The foundation appears to have presented a fund-raising project as necessary to help reopen the statue," Mr. Grassley said yesterday. "Yet at the same time the foundation suggests that the fund-raising did not affect the opening of the statue. The foundation needs to better explain this apparent discrepancy. Donors have a right to answers."

    The foundation's decision to raise more funds, rather than use the millions it already had, has been a source of debate, and the Bell report concluded that the foundation was prudent to not dip into its endowment to finance the project. It noted that although the group's bylaws did not restrict it from using the endowment, "the foundation has made several statements binding itself to a policy of preserving the principal.''

    The reluctance to not rely on the endowment, given the extraordinary circumstances of the statue being closed, appeared to surprise some people. A senior park service official told Mr. Bell's panel that "he assumed the foundation would use its endowment for the work, and not engage in additional fundraising,'' the report said.

    Former Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel, who said he was not contacted by Mr. Bell's panel despite having worked with the foundation for years, was critical of the foundation's decision. He said he was not surprised that the panel did not seek him out, given "that my antipathy toward the foundation as it has been operated has been pretty well known.''

    "It appears they had raised, and were sitting on, a significant amount of money that should have been spent on the park,'' said Mr. Hodel.

    The Bell report also undertook the question of the losses suffered by the foundation's endowment through its investments. It found that while the foundation's investment managers had turned in below-average returns in recent years, the decline in its endowment was not as dramatic as the foundation's tax returns and financial statements make it appear, because they do not reflect that some money was shifted into safer investments.

    The report said this omission caused The Times to reach "the false impression'' that the foundation's endowment losses were larger than they actually were.

    The Senate committee, in its investigation, explored the question of whether the foundation had worked to prevent other groups from raising money for the parks service and its monument.

    It found, in fact, that when park service had considered allowing another group to also raise money for the statue, Mr. Briganti, the foundation's president, objected to the possible partnerships.

    Mr. Briganti, the committee found, wrote a memo to board members last September in which he complained that the foundation was "stabbed in the back'' by the park service's dealings with the other group. As a result, he wrote, he had "halted all work'' on an immigration history project the foundation was planning "until we can have some fund-raising assurances.''

    That memo did not surprise Norman Liss, the vice president of the Ellis Island Restoration Commission, a nonprofit organization that consults on issues related to the monument.

    Mr. Liss, who said he spoke to Senate Finance Committee investigators, but was not contacted by Mr. Bell's panel, has long complained that the foundation wielded too much control over fund-raising at the park.

    "There has been a continual effort by the foundation to prevent anybody from raising money for the statue and Ellis Island but them,'' he said.

    In its letter to the foundation, the Senate committee said it found Mr. Briganti's actions "very troubling.''

    "It appears that the foundation, which enjoys a special relationship with the park service, is happy to put its own priorities and that of its staff first, before providing benefits to visitors of Ellis Island,'' the committee wrote.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  14. #44


    August 3, 2004

    Visitors Can Go Underfoot, but Not to Liberty's Crown


    Visitors will be greeted by a security tent when the Statue of Liberty National Monument reopens. It was closed after Sept. 11, 2001.

    Although visitors won't be able to climb to the top of the reopened Statue of Liberty, a new shatterproof glass ceiling allows a look up inside.

    On the way to the Statue of Liberty National Monument yesterday, visitors could pick up glossy brochures featuring a cutaway diagram of the statue's interior, complete with an image of tiny tourists ascending the spiral stairs to the crown.

    But when the base of the statue reopens to the public today for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, people will have to be content with only their memories, or imaginings, of making the long, claustrophobic climb to the top. Like the torch, which was closed in 1916 after being damaged by a saboteur's bomb, the crown is now off limits.

    The National Park Service, which invited members of the press to tour the monument before its reopening, said it concluded after the terrorist attacks that it would be unsafe to allow the public back inside the statue itself. The agency cited the difficulties of evacuating people during an emergency.

    Officials were at pains to play down the significance of no longer being able to go inside the statue. Marie Rust, the park service's northeast regional director, went so far as to say that climbing to the crown was "a terrible experience."

    "The stairs are narrow, there were crowds - we had 2,000 people going up at one time - it's hot," Ms. Rust said. "It's not safe, it's not secure, and I'll just say this: It's not fun."

    Larry Parkinson, an assistant secretary of the Department of Interior, suggested that some people's nostalgic remembrances of a climb to the crown were actually figments of childhood imaginations.

    "Most of us think we went to the crown; a lot of us didn't," he said. "I thought I went to the crown, and I hadn't."

    As part of the $6.7 million project to upgrade fire safety systems and improve security, the park service chose to limit public access to only the museum and guided tours of the observation balcony below Liberty's feet, about 10 stories above the ground. Glass ceiling panels have been installed in several places at the uppermost level in the statue's base, where one can peer up into the copper-clad interior.

    The view is limited to a jumble of metal struts and latticework encircling the narrow, central staircase, which twists up into the darkness. Despite newly installed lighting part of the way up, it is difficult to make out the form of the statue itself.

    The decision to close off access to the crown did not sit well with some members of Congress. Reporters returning to Manhattan from Liberty Island yesterday were greeted at the ferry landing by Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representative Anthony D. Weiner, both New York Democrats, who called a news conference to demand that the park service restore full access to the statue.

    Calling the trek to the crown "one of the great experiences of being in New York and being in America," Mr. Schumer discounted the concerns about evacuations, and proposed that the park service screen visitors to the statue by using the same terrorist watch lists available to airports.

    "There are problems with evacuation everywhere," he said. "In tall buildings, in other places as well, and that doesn't stop us from doing the best we can. It's a lack of focus, a lack of imagination and a lack even of some courage."

    Mr. Weiner called the decision to close off the crown "a partial victory for the terrorists."

    As part of the security enhancements, visitors must pass through metal detectors before leaving on the ferry bound for Liberty Island, and must submit to a second set of metal and explosive detectors if they want to go inside the monument's base. In addition, touring the monument now requires a reservation.

    Outside the statue, two large, temporary staircases made of wood have been added to allow people to descend from the base of the statue, which rests atop an old star-shaped fort, down to ground level in an emergency.

    The project to reopen of the statue's base became embroiled in controversy earlier this year amid news reports that the park service chose not to seek federal financing, and turned instead to its nonprofit partner, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The foundation, which has an unrestricted endowment of $30 million, started a $7 million fund-raising campaign "to reopen Lady Liberty."

    The foundation and park service have insisted the campaign did not delay the reopening effort. The news reports triggered an investigation by the Senate Finance Committee in Washington, which last week faulted the foundation for poor management, excessive salaries for its top executives and questionable expenses.

    Yesterday, Mr. Schumer said he believed the foundation's president, Stephen A. Briganti, should resign. The foundation did not respond to that suggestion, but issued a statement saying it "is proud of its efforts to make the reopening a reality."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  15. #45


    August 3, 2004

    Lady Liberty's base reopens

    Associated Press

    Slide Show: Statue of Liberty

    Poll: Will you climb the Statue?

    The Statue of Liberty, hailed in song and speech as a national symbol of freedom and opportunity, returned Tuesday to its status as a haven for huddled masses of tourists as visitors were allowed back inside the landmark for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001.

    Tickets for the first trips inside Lady Liberty in almost three years sold out quickly, with some visitors paying scalpers for a spot. Among the early arrivals were two lieutenants from the Italian army, Dario Coleanni and Vincenzo Pepe, who wound up scalping tickets for $20.

    "It's my first time in the U.S.," said Coleanni, 26, who's stationed in Rome. "I'm interested in seeing what's important in America: the Statue of Liberty."

    While Coleanni and scores of other visitors waited to get inside on a hot August day, the statue was reopened amid much ado on Liberty Island. Interior Secretary Gail Norton headed the list of guests attending the ceremony, which began with a military choir performing.

    A military color guard then carried the American flag to the podium. Musical performances included a rendition of George M. Cohan's "It's a Grand Old Flag" before the crowd rose for the national anthem.

    "Whether this is your first visit or one of many, I know this will be a memorable one," site superintendent Cynthia Garrett told the visitors. Pepe said she was right.

    "Seeing it is the most important thing to do here," the Italian soldier said.

    The 152-foot robed female figure with spiky crown and upraised torch became the most familiar symbol of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, welcoming millions of immigrants arriving at nearby Ellis Island and later marking the departure and return of troops from two world wars in Europe.

    It won't be business as before -- visitors can go only as high as the statue's feet, from where they can gaze upward, through a glass partition, at the steel girders that brace the hollow interior of the New York harbor landmark.

    They can also tour a museum inside the pedestal that tells the story of the statue, from its dedication in 1886 as a gift from France to its rededication after a major overhaul a century later. An alternative tour allows visitors to stroll the promenade atop the star-shaped former fort on which the statue and its pedestal rise some 30 stories above the harbor.

    Jean Campbell, a missionary nurse from Salem, N.H., failed in an attempt to get one of the sold-out tickets. She was contented Tuesday to walk around Liberty Island.

    "I've been looking for my family history, and this was here when they sailed in to New York," she said.

    The reopening of the pedestal to the public went ahead despite new warnings over the weekend of possible terrorist attacks on financial centers in Manhattan, Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C.

    Tightened security measures at the 117-year-old national monument include a new anti-bomb detection device that blows a blast of air into clothing and then checks for particles of explosive residue. Bomb-sniffing dogs also were present during the preview.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki joined the crowd for the ceremonial event.

    "This beacon of hope and liberty is once again open to the public, sending a reassuring message to the world that freedom is alive in New York and shining brighter than ever before," Pataki said.

    The Statue of Liberty was sealed off to visitors as a post-Sept. 11 security precaution. The 12-acre Liberty Island reopened to the public two months later, but the statue itself has remained closed.

    Larry Parkinson, deputy assistant Interior secretary for law enforcement and security, said it was unlikely that visitors would have access to the statue's interior spiral staircases in the foreseeable future.

    Kevin Mason, president of the Circle Line, whose ferries serve the Statue of Liberty and nearby Ellis Island, the historic immigration reception center, from lower Manhattan's Battery Park and Liberty State Park in New Jersey, said he hoped the reopening would help bring back tourists whose numbers fell 45 percent after the 2001 terrorist attacks -- from 4.5 million a year in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2002.

    The tours cost $10 a head for adults and $4 for children.

    The statue, made of hammered copper the thickness of two pennies, was closed in 1937 for a year of renovations and underwent another major refurbishing for its centennial in 1986.

    On Sept. 11, 2001, the second of two terrorist-hijacked jetliners skimmed low over the statue just seconds before it crashed into the World Trade Center's south tower 1 1/2 miles away.

    On the Net: Statue of Liberty:

    Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

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