“We don’t even ask happiness, just a little less pain.”
Those of us who heard the first plane fly over our apartment building remember the ensuing terror. I thought it was a military jet because it flew so low that it would explain the roar of the jet engines. Suspiciously, I turned on the T.V. and watched the first burning tower as the second plane came in from across the Hudson River from New Jersey — and watched the second tower being hit. After the procession of emergency vehicles began down 7th avenue, life settled into a dull routine of fear. That was the lull before we watched the two towers collapse. I and my family were petrified and joined a neighbor who resolved his fears by immediately starting to drink. It’s been twenty years since we inhaled the smoke from those burning fires that lasted almost 6 months.
The promise of some sort of compensation perked us up. My oldest son suffered from recurrent nightmares and seizures. My wife had thyroid problems and asthma. My daughter developed a strange confluence of maladies that caused her to pass out. I developed cancer. And, we all had gastroenterological problems. We all suffered from PTSD. You can’t watch people jumping from the 90th floor of a building and not come away with something.
We registered with the WTC for medical treatment. We hired an attorney to handle the matter and registered. We were unable to file a claim with the VCF (Victims Compensation Fund) until 2018 for some arcane reason. It seemed like a long time before we could get assistance. Since our landlord never cleaned the defective venting system in our apartment, we learned that we had been exposed to the toxic dust for years beyond the actual disaster. But, finally our claim was in. After asking about how long this would take — since it didn’t feel like we were pushing to expect some sort of payment 17 years after being exposed — we were told 12-18 months. We’d waited this long, so WTF. Obviously, having been convicted for my writing, they weren’t sending checks to prisoners. And, my family had its hands full with the landlord trying to evict them while I was making license plates.
Meanwhile, they claimed that the VCF and WTC Health program was running out of money. What? I was aware that all of the businesses that claimed they’d been destroyed by the Terror attack — and, had been investigated and prosecuted for accepting money. I mean, after all, that’s what government does, right? And, all of the downtown politicians had appeared numerous times with construction hats on and cameras rolling to show how they cared. Lots of uniforms, speeches, solemn moods and faces. Everyone, including Madelaine Wils, Julie Menin, Mayors Guiliani and Bloomberg, Bernard Kerik and assorted politicians from New York and Washington. Everyone got on board. So what was the problem?
Finally, it took a comedian — Jon Stewart — to get things moving. In 2019 Stewart started to make waves about people waiting to get paid while the staff, the politicians, even the people answering the phone, were. But, they were running out of money for the health treatment and for the award checks. The publicity worked. Even a Republican controlled economy with a President who now hated New York and wanted to retaliate for not loving him and his sexual prowess banter — allowed a bill with $10 Billion dollars in new money to guarantee that it would fulfill its mission. Even Moscow Mitch went along. Unfortunately, the true mission was not underscored.
That mission was to keep the salary checks flowing for the WTC Health program and the VCF bureaucracy.
My wife’s asthma medication would be called in to our pharmacy but the WTC wouldn’t pay for it even though they’d prescribed it. No part of her thyroid operation was covered. It took nearly a year for my GERD medication to be paid for. And, that’s not to mention the bills we have received for treatment. Bills for treatment supposedly covered — is this double dipping?
But even more important, even with cancer, there was no award check.
Now, I don’t know Jon Stewart. And, I don’t think he gives a shit that I cannot now find a job due to my illness or due to the mind-fucking that I’ve received — along with the concomitant fraudulent felonies heaped upon me due to my writing about the criminal enterprise and pay-to-play operation that was being operated by Thomas Spota — the former D.A. in the Hamptons. Check Newsday from today and that story gets really interesting and has expanded to include Steve Levy, the Suffolk County Executive who was about to challenge Cuomo as Governor. But it’s not nearly the whole story. It doesn’t mention all of the corrupt judges, lawyers and A.D.A.s working out of Spota’s office before he was convicted.
In all fairness, Stewart was doing a P.R. play in order to get firemen, cops, EMT workers and others paid before they died from the toxic exposure. And that is as it should have happened. But, once again, who gives a damn about a journalist who wrote about the disaster, visited the burning site and published a magazine that underscored the devastation in SoHo from 9-11 and gave out free publicity and ads to help them? No other publication did that. Only The SoHo Journal. I mean, we can’t all be as lucky as Jamal Khashoggi or Anna Politovskaya and get it over with quickly. Some of us, who’ve tried to warn everyone about what was going on, have been forced to linger!
Only Senator Schumer’s office has helped. Only an assistant named Selena Cardona in that office has helped. No other politician has raised a finger or given a shit. We’ve received no help, no payment, no outreach, even though they got their $10 Billion dollar shot in the arm.
So, thanks, Jon. The employees of this indifferent bureaucracy are being guaranteed their salary checks until 2090. But, as the clerk has repeatedly told me on the phone in Washington at the VCF, twenty years later, “it’s under review.” When I complained to my lawyer about the fact that I might be dead by the time I received any payment, he said, “I have a lot of dead clients.”