“And if you know your New York City landlords, and some of you do, there is no worse human being on Earth, okay?” That’s just a small taste of The Donald’s testimony (site has audio too and is via Instapundit) before a Senate committee yesterday concerning the proposed $1.2 billion renovation of the United Nations building. I’m not a Trump fan. I’ve never seen his show, and if I watched TV I’d make a point not to watch it. I’m also dubious of his so-called buiness skillz because it seems to me that it takes a very special lack of skills to allow casinos to go bankrupt. However, I do appreciate Trump for his flair and his hair. He also has the unique quality of an arrogance that is not off-putting. The guy is arrogant, but it’s a funny arrogance. Trump’s testimony before the Senate International Security Subcommittee was as fun to read as it was critical of the UN’s proposed renovation plans.
Trump actually spoke with Kofi Annan and other UN officials back in 2000, when the bill for the renovation was set at $1.5 billion. Trump was called in by the UN to talk about it, and told them that the only way a renovation could cost $1.5 billion was either by “gross incompetence” or “corruption.” He found the people running the show at the UN were naive, ignorant, and prime lunch meat for NYC contractors and builders, and the project itself was going to be a “disaster.” Trump also expressed some wonderment as to why the price tag dropped to the current $1.2 billion when nothing else changed except construction costs, which have gone up. He believes the UN is in “very serious trouble” and predicts the final bill for the project will end up being close to $3 billion. If that doesn’t seem expensive, it should seem that way after Trump basically swears he can do it for $700 million. That’s the meat of what he says, now to the fun stuff.
At one point Trump starts talking about asbestos, and I can’t really understand why but he gets in a good jab at the federal government:
In New York City, we have a lot of asbestos buildings. And there’s a whole debate about asbestos. I mean, a lot of people could say that if the World Trade Center had asbestos, it wouldn’t have burned down. It wouldn’t have melted, okay? A lot of people think asbestos…a lot of people in my industry think asbestos is the greatest fire-proofing material ever made. And I can tell you that I’ve seen tests of asbestos, verus the new material that’s being used, and it’s not even a contest. It’s like a heavyweight champion against a lightweight from high school. But in your great wisdom, you folks have said asbestos is a horrible material, so it has to be removed.
One of the major problems with the UN’s plans is the architect. Trump puts it well:
Now, I listened to one thing, and I’ve seen one thing, and one number that sticks out more than all of the rest . . . the number of $44 million dollars for an architect, is one of the great numbers in the history . . . In fact, I think this man is a genius, whoever he may be, wherever he may be in Italy. I think he’s a great genius. I would like to meet him. He is, without question, the richest architect in the world.
Apparently, the architect ended up only getting $27 million before the contract was terminated, which doesn’t seem so bad until you’re told that the Italian architect has delivered nothing:
So they [the architect firm] got paid $27 million dollars. They haven’t done anything. They don’t even have plans. Nobody even knows what they’re building, and they got paid $27 million dollars.
The architect for Trump’s largest residential building was paid $1.5 million, and residential buildings are much more complicated to design and build than office buildings.
Trump wants to go in, take over the project, and help the UN (he’s a “big fan” of their’s), but his dream for the project is a little, well, odd:
It’s a dream to take the United Nations, and the Senator over here is probably going to go crazy, move it to the World Trade Center as a brand new United Nations. Sell the United Nations site, which is one of the greatest sites in the world, for much more money than the whole thing would cost, and you end up building a free United Nations at the World Trade Center, where I don’t think anybody’s going to want to stay anyway. I think it’s going to be a very, very hard rent up at the World Trade Center.
Now, the idea of moving the UN, an organization I regard as corrupt and nearly useless, to the hallowed ground of the WTC strikes me as stupid. However, Trump has a point I never considered before: who will want to be in the new WTC? I mean, if I had to pick one building Al Qaeda would be dying to knock down it would be a brand new WTC. Considering this, it may be very hard to rent up the WTC, so why not just stick the UN in it? After Trump makes this suggestion suggestion, a Senator makes the comment, ” . . . Got no problem with that. Put Kofi Annan on the top floor.”
Trump concludes his testimony, “Congratulations. You’ve got yourself a mess on your hands.” Sounds just the UN.