New York City’s De Blasio Isn’t Organizing Annual 9/11 Ceremony

By Michael Howard Saul The Wall Street Journal 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration are taking a backseat role in organizing next week’s ceremony commemorating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks—the first time City Hall hasn’t led the event’s planning, officials said.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his top aides were in charge of the planning of every 9/11 ceremony since terrorists toppled the Twin Towers 13 years ago. This year, for the first time, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation is calling the shots, according to city and foundation officials. Mr. Bloomberg is the foundation’s chairman.

Michael Frazier, a foundation spokesman, said the transition of the ceremony planning from City Hall to the foundation began in 2012, before Mr. de Blasio was elected mayor last year.

“By 2014 the planning for the event was solely under the nonprofit organization, which opened its museum that year in May,” Mr. Frazier said.

Marti Adams, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said Mr. de Blasio agreed with the decision to put decision-making over the ceremony in the hands of the foundation, with which the city was working closely. “The city of New York provides city services, assets and citywide agency coordination to ensure the September 11 anniversary ceremony runs smoothly and the location is fully secure,” Ms. Adams said.

Mr. Bloomberg has held sway over the commemoration since the first one held at the six-month anniversary, often acting as an MC of sorts as he spoke first and closed out the solemn event. Other politicians have chafed at Mr. Bloomberg’s tight control over the event, sparking power struggles over the ceremony’s composition.

In 2012, after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attempted to gain more influence over the event, Mr. Bloomberg banned elected officials—including himself—from speaking. That ban will be in effect next Thursday, officials said, though Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Bloomberg and other dignitaries are expected to attend.

Stu Loeser, a Bloomberg spokesman, said: “This is a transition that started years ago after many, many conversations between the city and states of New Jersey and New York.”

Museum officials said this year’s ceremony will largely mirror the event from recent years.

Family members will recite the names of the deceased and there will be moments of silence to mark pivotal moments from the day of the attacks. The memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day. Mr. Frazier said only family members and elected officials invited in previous years have been invited this time. First responders are again not on the invitation list, he confirmed, a source of controversy in the past. This year, the plaza will be opened to the public at 6 p.m on September 11 and remain open until midnight.

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