Thursday, June 07, 2007

9/11 bullies

Coyote Angry has a wonderful post on the abuse of the victim card being perpetrated by Ed Root, president of the Families of Flight 93, which is trying to build a memorial at the crash site in Pennsylvania.

Some excerpts:

[Root is] whining because a landowner doesn't want to give away 273 acres of his land to the National Park Service to build a memorial.

I'm truly sorry that innocent people died on that flight and I'm sorry for the pain that has caused their friends and families but I have to tell you: innocent people die every single day and we do not confiscate private property from people in order to build them shrines.

What caught my eye is that Root is trying to assemble 1,300 acres for the memorial.

Excuse me? 1,300 acres? What the heck for? The impact site is the size of a couple of football fields. The memorial design looks nice and all, but it includes a huge amount of space that has nothing to do with the crash except that it lies under the plane's flight path. And a huge amount of land that doesn't even have that much relevance.

I have no problem with him wanting to assemble a big memorial. And I fully understand the Park Service taking the opportunity to create more parkland. But 1,300 acres is a want, not a need.

That said, the land in question is the actual site of the crash. So it's "must-have" land. Because of that, Root claims the landowner is "holding the American people hostage" by refusing to sell. Coyote Angry's response:

No he is not "holding the American people hostage". You are trying to hold him hostage. It's his land, he can jolly well tell you to jump off a cliff if it suits him. Why on earth would he want to try and negotiate any sort of deal with a whiny windbag like you. You'd probably turn right around and look for some reason to sue him as soon as the deal was closed.

Meanwhile, the families have criticized a donation box the landowner has placed near the site, saying it "degrades the memories" of their loved ones. The landowner says he's trying to recoup some of the $200,000 in lost mining income and $10,000 a month in site security costs that being a neighbor to history has saddled him with.

Now, there's plenty of reason to think the landowner isn't exactly an angel. He knows his land is crucial. A memorial negotiator says he wants $10 million for it, not the $500,000 or so they say is market value; his donation box is apparently misleadingly marked, so people think they're donating to the memorial when they put money in it; and the Park Service says the security he's paying for is unnecessary.

Still, the landowner allows people on to his property to visit the site and isn't demanding compensation for lost income and increased security costs. His major crime appears to be that he won't simply sell his land to the family group, preferring instead to deal with the Park Service.

Further, I'm not sure how it's degrading to the memory of the dead to put out a donation box, but it's not degrading to their memory to use them as a club in an effort to strongarm said landowner.

First the $1 billion memorial at Ground Zero, now this. Stuff like this is going to hasten the onset of 9/11 Victim Fatigue.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHHHH. FINALLY something we agree on, Sean!!! Yippee.

$10 million for that many acres doesn't seem out of line at all to me. $500,000 might be market value for other properties in the area, but not this one. Because this one has historic value.

I know someone locally who sold their 5 acres 15 years ago for $125,000. Today, it's gone commercial and someone has offered the current owner $1 million and he turned it down. Because he knows he can get more.

Again---I don't think the landowner is being unreasonable at all. And personally----I think these heroes can be memorialized anywhere; it doesn't need to be there where they died. So, if they don't want to pay the price, they need to go somewhere else.


6/07/2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

AHHHH. FINALLY something we agree on, Sean!!! Yippee.

Damn, I just saw a pig fly by my window....

$10 million for that many acres doesn't seem out of line at all to me. $500,000 might be market value for other properties in the area, but not this one. Because this one has historic value.

Perhaps, but I find it very unseemly to try to extort a nonprofit group for that much money, piggybacking on the deaths of 40 people. He cannot be forced to sell, of course, but he should sell it for fair market value, perhaps with a slight premium to compensate for his costs and loss of future income.

6/07/2007 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True---he shouldn't be just trying to gouge them. However, as I said, that many acres here would be worth a lot of money. It's not unusual here for raw land---pretty land---to be worth $20,000 per acre. He's got almost 300. Could be different there in Pennsylvania; I don't know.


6/08/2007 12:10 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

He's donating the 4 acre crash site itself it's the rest of the acreage in question and he has stated he will be happy to negotiate with the NPS but will not negotiate directly with any families or other 3rd parties.

For his own legal and financial protection this is the logical approach to take. I don't think he's trying to gouge anyone but I'd defend his right to do so even if he was. This is the system we've set up.

Root should be thanking the US public for agreeing to cough up $58 million for a public memorial. If he feels this is insufficient this IS a free country, the families can purchase a site on their own and build their own memorial.

6/08/2007 2:41 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Thanks for the update, NYM. So that makes it even less defensible.

Just a thought, but maybe 60 acres (the amount of land they currently possess) ought to be enough for a memorial. Or heck, go crazy and make it 180 acres. But 1,300? Lordy.

6/08/2007 2:46 PM  

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