Nagin Apologizes To New York

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin talks to a reporter after holding a news conference, Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, in New York, to launch the New Orleans Rebirth Economic Development Tour.
AP Photo/Diane Bondareff
He came to New York to drum up business for his own city. But the first thing New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did was right a wrong.

Nagin opened a visit to the Big Apple on Friday by expressing regret for having criticized the slow redevelopment at the World Trade Center site, saying he will "never again refer to that site as a hole."

Nagin was in town for a two-day pitch to the New York investment community to get business in his hurricane-ravaged city. The visit comes days after the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and just before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

While on a stage with the Rev. Al Sharpton and representatives of a New Orleans delegation, Nagin addressed comments he had made in a recent "60 Minutes" broadcast, where he branded ground zero "a hole in the ground" to compare it to the slow pace of rebuilding in his city after Hurricane Katrina. Nagin had apologized for the comments quickly afterward.

"I want to say to all New Yorkers that I love New York City and have been here on many occasions," Nagin said during a press conference held Friday, less than two weeks before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. "We as New Orleanians and as New Yorkers understand what tragedy is all about and understand the difficulty of recovering from tragedy."

He also said he especially regretted the term he had used to describe ground zero, where more than 2,700 people died after terrorists piloted two commercial flights into the twin towers, causing them to collapse.

"I will never refer to that site as a hole," Nagin said. "It's a sacred site that's currently in an undeveloped state."