Who is John Zuccotti, and why was the park that bears his name chosen for Occupy Wall Street?
The 74-year-old Zuccotti is co-chairman of the board of the $3.2 billion dollar Brookfield Properties, a multi-billion dollar real estate development firm.
Mr. Zuccotti has longstanding ties to parks and city government as 40 years ago he was a paid, part-time member of the city planning commission and in the mid-1970s was appointed deputy mayor of New York City.
Additionally, Brookfield Properties has links to city government — Diana Taylor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s frequent companion, sits on the Brookfield Board of Directors co-chaired by Zuccotti. (To be fair and accurate, Ms. Taylor is more than just the mayor’s girlfriend. She happens to be an accomplished businessperson with an impressive resume that includes high-ranking positions in banking and a large utility company.)
And then there are the financial connections between Brookfield Properties and the Obama Administration.
The Union Leader of New Hampshire reported that the Obama administration has backed a local wind farm (tied to Brookfield) with taxpayer dollars. The title of the story, “A NH Solyndra? Wind farm gets fed loan” leads one to believe that the project is probably on shaky financial footing. The Union Leader connects the dots from the White House to Brookfield and then, in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy, questions the financial wisdom of this loan.
Why would a company created by a $3.2 billion company and backed by a $2.7 billion private fund need federal loan guarantees? That would be an important question at any time, but it is more pertinent after the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar-panel maker that got a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Obama administration last year.
You might wonder how the Obama administration chose Brookfield from all of the companies looking to cash in on the government stimulus money. The answer to that question is a simple one: Joe Biden. Biden’s son, Robert is a partner in Oldaker, Biden, & Belair, a DC lobbying firm that in their start-up years (2002-2003) was hired by Brookfield.
The New York Times recently interviewed John Zuccotti about the Occupy Wall Street protests and his park, and one of the statements he made to the writer makes you wonder if he has actually been to lower Manhattan and seen what is happening in the 33,000 square foot park.
“If you go there, you can’t tell the protesters from the tourists,” he added. “It has a kind of festive atmosphere.”
As someone who has visited OWS several times in the past five weeks, I can state without reservation, you can easily tell the protesters from the tourists. And in many cases this can be accomplished using just your sense of smell.
One wonders if Mr. Zuccotti’s wife would find the anti-Semitic statements made by many protesters to be a “festive environment?” Susan Zuccotti is an award-winning author of four books about the Holocaust, two were honored by the National Jewish Book Council.
WHY ZUCCOTTI PARK?
Why was this park chosen over the dozens of Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) found in Manhattan?
In the area below City Hall, the NYC lists 41 POPS, so we ask again, why Zuccotti?
The easy answer to the question is the standard first rule of real estate — “location, location, location.” Zuccotti Park is located in the heart of the Financial District and it happens to be one of the largest POPS in the city. Combine these realities with the friendly connections to NYC’s government as well as the White House and Zuccotti Park is without question the best possible base of operations for Occupy Wall Street.
Since this protest movement claims to have no formal leadership, no central organization, and no official declaration of demands, it seems slightly suspicious that this alleged spontaneous gathering ended up in the largest free, public space in the Wall Street area.