- (Photo: Reuters/Eric Thayer)
The governors of New York and New Jersey have taken issue with how New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has orchestrated the 10th anniversary ceremony for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Mayor Bloomberg, whose office oversees the memorial ceremony for 9/11 victims, has made it clear that the Sept. 11 event at the World Trade Center is not for speeches or grandstanding and wants participating politicians to stick to reading poetry, as is done every year.
The mayor is concerned that elected officials participating in the televised event might use the opportunity to shore up points with voters instead of focusing on the victims who died in the attacks 10 years ago.
“We’ve tried very hard every year to keep the focus away from politics and politicians, and on families, where it belongs,” Bloomberg said during a press conference Thursday. The mayor added that plans for the ceremony had been finalized.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the most vocal in his response to Bloomberg's guidelines for the memorial ceremony, has called the mayor a "dictator" and "Napoleon" for neglecting to add former New Jersey Gov. Donald DiFrancesco to the list of speakers, the New York Post has reported.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg added DiFrancesco, who was in office during the 2001 terrorist attacks, to the lineup of speakers.
"If we allow New York to make every one of these decisions with just New York, no one from New Jersey would be there," Christie told reporters during a press conference Thursday. "That's my job. I'm standing up for the people of my state."
During his Thursday press conference, Bloomberg dodged reporters' questions about any possible friction between himself, Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Gov. Cuomo had been seeking a greater role in planning the 9/11 memorial ceremony.
“I don't think the public is interested in some of these probably made-up stories about political squabbling to really take away from the solemnity...of the occasion,” Bloomberg told reporters.
The Sept. 11 event remembering the estimated 2,752 people who lost their lives will be televised nationally and feature appearances by victims' families, President Barack Obama, and former President George W. Bush.
Not even Obama, the first sitting president to attend the event, or Bush will be diverging from the pre-set program, Bloomberg said.
“The bottom line is for 10 years we’ve been doing this for families, and we’re going to continue to do it for families,” the mayor said.
Bloomberg's office has also gotten flak for not allowing first responders to participate in this year's memorial event.
Citing space and security concerns, organizers have instead invited the firefighters, police officers, and others who were among the first to arrive at the site of the terrorist attacks to watch on television screens at nearby Zuccotti Park.