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New York Gets Nagin Apology on Remark

The New Orleans mayor visits to attract investors, but revisits his `hole in the ground' comment.

September 02, 2006|Melanie Lefkowitz | Newsday

NEW YORK — New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin struck a tone of contrition Friday for calling the World Trade Center site "a hole in the ground," pledging never to refer to the "sacred site" that way again.

"I want to make sure that everyone in New York understands I love New York City, I've been here on many occasions, and I think that we as New Orleanians and New Yorkers understand what tragedies are all about, and we understand the difficulties in trying to recover from a tragedy," Nagin said, appearing in New York for the first time since his remarks on the rebuilding process were broadcast on "60 Minutes" last week.

Nagin presided over a packed news conference in Tribeca on Friday to kick off his city's efforts to attract investment as it tries to bounce back from Hurricane Katrina. Although most of the questions concerned New Orleans, Nagin was peppered with questions about the "60 Minutes" interview.

"You guys in New York can't get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later. So let's be fair," Nagin said in the interview.

Nagin, who has apologized, said Friday, "What I'll never do again is refer to that site as a hole. It's a sacred site that is currently in an undeveloped state."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who avoided criticizing Nagin after his remarks were publicized, was at a firefighter's funeral and did not attend the news conference. Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, who did attend, minimized the controversy.

"People are making more of it than it actually is," he said. "This morning when I talked to Mayor Bloomberg, he said there is no issue between Mayor Nagin and our city and the mayor himself. We have a great relationship."

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