It’s safe to say that, had Ground Zero been handled better, or handled at all, the Burlington Coat Factory site wouldn’t have been sitting there fallow to be snapped up for a song and given to Imam Feisal Rauf. The buildings around the site would have been renovated in ways that would have been respectful of it and with some positive relation to it.

It’s an unimaginable failure with many fathers: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the politicians who control it; the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., and others. But at the top of the list of shame sits former Gov. George Pataki, who had primary statutory authority for the site and whose idea the design competition was.

Pataki’s forgettable 12-year governorship deserves to be remembered only for what he was unable, unwilling or just incapable of doing when history called on him to do something great. Instead, he dithered and fought and pouted when Rudy Giuliani got too much credit, and fantasized about running for president and finally faded away.