We’ve undergone tough times before, but today an unprecedented barrage of calamities has coalesced into the perfect storm, a mega-disaster that will either swamp us once and for allor offer an opportunity for us to re-engineer and rebuild FROM THE GROUND UP. I believe we will succeed.
We have to. But while some things are working better than ever in America today, business as usual – especially over the last couple decades – is killing us. We’ve got politicians who are models of inaction, blathering a bunch of hot air to help their re-election bids and nothing more, selling out the very people whose votes they depend on. We have millions of frustrated citizens who don’t understand the concept of civic responsibility—they don’t even vote. We suffer a business community adding fuel to the fire, refusing to accept having to pay its fair share for the resources it uses. So the question we have to ask is, what do we tackle first? The inner cities? The national debt? Partisan politics? Race relations? Income inequality? Immigration? How about that disintegrating infrastructure?
Make no mistake. This moment marks the biggest existential threat we’ve faced since 9/11. Maybe even since the Civil War and the Great Depression. Our country needs complete re-engineering from foundation to roof. We need a plan. A prescription for massive national evolution, one step at a time.
My friend and colleague, Charles A. Gargano, has a plan to do just that. In FROM THE GROUND UP, one of the country’s most accomplished civil engineers – the man principally responsible for the revival of New York following the terrorist catastrophe of September 11, 2001 – outlines transformative instructions for massive national evolution, one step at a time.
Using as a model the multifarious challenge of turning Ground Zero from a “pit and pile” into an international emblem of resurrection, Gargano proposes a series of incremental actions for us to take in order to salvage, rehabilitate and rebuild a broken country, all within the frame of “re-engineering.”
As Chairman and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, and Vice Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during America’s darkest days and thorniest re-engineering project, Gargano was a classic “inside man” from Day One. On the site, he and I watched the second plane hit. Together we met up with Mayor Rudolf Giuliani and spoke with President George W. Bush within minutes. Gargano was there during every stage of the rebuilding of lower Manhattan, orchestrating innovative developments as he had done for years with the successful revamping of 42nd Street, Harlem, Niagara Falls, as well as many other projects that changed the face of the City and State of New York. In short, Charlie’s one of only a handful of people who personally understands the intricate challenge of that undertaking, and who had a hand in all of it.
Owing to this “in the trenches” experience, on top of his expertise as a political operative and major political donor/fund raiser, ambassador, community leader, and civil engineer, Charlie’s become a pioneer and thought-leader in the specialized field of “re-engineering.”
Re-engineering is the only way to capitalize on our strengths and fix a system in risk of ruins, brick by brick, FROM THE GROUND UP. This man has a reputation for turning rubble into gold. Whenever I get anxious about our country’s present and future, I look at One World Trade Center. The presence of the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere is no accident. It represents no less than an epochal and triumphal event, defiant and life-affirming, a signature moment of grace in the tortured early history of the 21st century. It was never going to be easy. Using each major lesson learned during the decade+ of rebuilding the 9/11 site – each achievement and setback – FROM THE GROUND UP offers Americans for the first time a comprehensive, practical and inspiring plan for re-engineering the entire country.
It’s about time.
—GEORGE E. PATAKI, 53RD GOV. OF NEW YORK STATE