2007_02_wtcbloomberg.jpgYesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to expand the city's response for World Trade Center-related health illnesses, after a panel found many things, such as many people didn't even know there's a WTC health program at Bellevue. Now the city plans to ask Washington D.C. for $150 million a year for programs; establishing new to keep everyone aware of what's going on; and, perhaps most importantly, reopening the Victim Compensation Fund and ending various legal disputes victims have been enduring.

At the same time, the death of Cesar Borja continues to be news. Trumpeted as a 9/11 first responder, retired cop Borja died of pulmonary fibrosis last month while awaiting a lung transplant. His family believed his illness was caused by working at Ground Zero (doctors did think it was possible, though there's no conclusive evidence) and the media and politicians alike seized his story. Yesterday, the NY Times revealed at Borja did not work at the WTC site immediately after September 11 or work 16 hour shifts as previously described by other newspapers, most notably the Daily News, which paid for Borja's son Ceasar to attend the State of the Union as Senator Hillary Clinton's guest.

2007_02_borjajr.jpgThe Daily News spoke to Ceasar Borja in light of the new facts about his father's service. Borja said, "Why are they attacking my father's honor? I don't see my father [as] any less of a hero. To me, heroes are heroes." Borja feels the Times is trying to discredit his father, as well as others afflicted after working at Ground Zero, but one could also argue that the Times was clarifying the public record.

The NY Post wastes no time, offering a story about how other people suffering from WTC-related illnesses are worried that their claims may not be believed because of interest in Borja's story and the Times' follow-up. Plus the Post has an editorial: Death of a Myth, which has the line "...there is also no substantial reason to believe that he was sickened by conditions at Ground Zero, or that he was harmed by government negligence - city, state or federal." The Times, at least, in its coverage yesterday did offer a statement from Mount Sinai doctors, who said that Borja's more limited-than-previously-thought exposure could have led to the illness. A Post PR person also sent an email to Gawker, belittling the Daily News' attempt to get a Pulitzer with its "Forgotten Victims of 9/11" series.