Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 7 News List

New Orleans mayor slams New York reconstruction pace


New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, confronted with accusations he's taking too long to rebuild his city after Hurricane Katrina, took a swipe at New York's redevelopment of the World Trade Center site on a television news show.

Nagin, weaving through the wreckage in the devastated Ninth Ward neighborhood, claimed much of the debris had been removed from public property, but when a 60 Minutes correspondent pointed out flood-damaged cars on the streets, Nagin shot back: "You guys in New York can't get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later. So let's be fair," according to CBS.

The program will air on Sunday night; text and a video clip from the Nagin piece were posted on CBS' Web site on Thursday.

The New Orleans mayor is known for his blunt, unpolished style, which has been the source of local popularity and numerous gaffes since last year's storm.

Nagin is not the first to compare the two cities -- the residents of New Orleans frequently complain that the response of the federal government to the needs of the Gulf Coast has been far more sluggish than it was after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Still, Nagin's comment rankled some New Yorkers.

The chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp, the agency created to oversee the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site and downtown Manhattan, pointed out that New York sent firefighters, police officers and engineers to New Orleans to help in the days following the hurricane.

"We understand how difficult rebuilding a city after such destruction can be," the chairman, Kevin Rampe, said in a statement.

Rampe said "tremendous progress" has been made in lower Manhattan, with the Freedom Tower, a transportation hub and a memorial to the victims of the attack under construction.

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