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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Pope’s Visit Reminds Us That There Is Still A Lot Of Work To Do

The Pope’s visit to New York City last week only reiterated the need for WTC rescue workers to begin receiving their rightful share of the $1 Billion that Congress set aside for them after the attacks of 9/11. Pope Benedict XVI, after a 6 day visit to the United States, said “We ask you, in your compassion, to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness. Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.” Obviously it was a very emotionally charged moment and, if nothing else, reminded New Yorkers that there are many victims who are still suffering and haven’t been helped by the government. Amazingly still, that same government has squandered millions of dollars of taxpayer money to lawyers and bureaucrats defending the city from lawsuits brought by those injured by the toxins permeating the air after Ground Zero.

The Pope’s visit and call for help for those rescue workers who were injured or disabled was much appreciated. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly noted that “it means a lot to the first responders, and it means a lot to the city.” It definitely does, but at the Pope’s side as he delivered those words was Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is ultimately responsible for how the WTC Captive Insurance Fund is run. He too has taken the stance that protecting the city’s interests is ultimately more important than protecting those who sacrificed their health, and in some cases lives, for the city as well. It is a perverse paradox and nothing captures it better than the image of the Pope, calling for healing for those who “suffer from illness and injury,” and Bloomberg, whose decision making has led to the very predicament facing the rescue workers today, standing together. Considering how great this injustice has ended up being; we may finally be seeing the tide begin to turn.

As I’ve noted, there is some good being done towards correcting the unforgivable way these heroes have been treated. There are renewed calls for setting up a Victim’s Compensation Fund with the money remaining. Of course this is what should have been done with the $1 Billion initially allocated by Congress in the first place, but at least it might expedite the process for the rescue workers to get the money they are entitled to. The House Judiciary Committee hearings were also a big step in the right direction. After it became apparent that the health of the rescue workers was compromised, everyone in Congress promised to help the rescue workers in the same way that they promised to help the families of the victims who died in the plane crashes and in the World Trade Center. But almost 7 years later when those rescue workers weren’t receiving the money that had been set aside for them, at least Congress held hearings and drew attention to the problem and promised action. Granted, this will take time, but I know I feel better knowing that the federal government is aware of the problem and are trying to take some action while the city’s government worries about protecting itself from a lawsuit.

By: Irv Kaplan

Irv Kaplan provides information about WTC rescue workers and captive insurance fund.To know more how you can help the rescue workers visit www.wtccaptivefund.com

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