Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bronx Sweetheart Deal #2

It seems that certain Bronx and city officials have a major sweet tooth because just after ramming through the Bronx Terminal Market redevelopment they are trying to peddle another sweetheart deal: a new Yankee Stadium. Good Jobs New York (GJNY), a subsidy watchdog group, has just released a report highlighting how the taxpayer is being swindled in order to subsidize the richest team in baseball.

Breaking down the numbers GJNY concludes that direct and indirect subsidies of the project could exceed $480 million, the new stadium’s costs will far outweigh its revenue, and that most of the jobs will be either be temporary/season or low-wage. The good government agency also points out that, like with the BTM, there was outrageously little public input for this project, especially when both city and public officials voted to allow the Yankees to build on two heavily used South Bronx parks.

Good Jobs also mentions that Yankee officials and the Bronx Borough President plan to implement a Community Benefits Agreement for the project, similar to the “groundbreaking” one crafted for Related’s Gateway Mall. As the report underscores, however, that CBA cannot be a model for there are a number of major flaws:

* The commitment to hire Bronx residents is weak. Retail tenants at the Development will have no hiring obligations under the agreement and the developer, who will have few employees to begin with, can hire non-Bronx residents it deems more qualified;

* Commercial tenants are also not required to report on their hiring practices under the agreement and thus there will be no way to evaluate whether local residents actually benefit from the bulk of the job growth;

* The developer is not required to consider the wages or benefits paid by prospective tenants when choosing among them, tenants are not required to make efforts to pay Living Wages and Benefits, and tenants are not required to report on the wages or benefits that they pay to their employees;

* Retail space set aside for local businesses under the agreement is to be reserved for nine months prior to the mall opening, at the most, and the developer is free to rent the space at its discretion;

* The agreement expires in less than nine years;

* The agreement bars injunctive relief for violations and it contains a cap for the developer’s monetary liability. Together these provisions enable the Developer to pay off its obligations.
Good Jobs will have a press conference announcing the report’s release today at noon at their offices at 11 Park Place, #701 (between Broadway and Church Street) in Lower Manhattan.