Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

When we criticized the Bronx Terminal Market CBA we mentioned that a major concern was that the flawed agreement would become a precedent in the Bronx. It seems that our worries have been confirmed after seeing what the Yankees are supposedly offering to the community.

According to the NY Times today:

As part of the Yankees' proposal to build a new stadium, the team will contribute $28 million to a trust fund and distribute 15,000 free tickets each season to Bronx groups, according to the draft plan of a community benefits program.

The proposal also calls for the team to pay $100,000 a year to maintain parks around the stadium and distribute $100,000 a year in "equipment and promotional merchandise" to schools and youth groups in New York City.
As the paper points out one problem with this agreement is that there is no guarantee that a lion share of the money will go to the South Bronx community that is being asked to give up its park and accommodate increased traffic (and the money being proposed is a meager 3.5% of the project's total value). Another is that the fund will be administered by an “individual of promise” appointed by an elected-official controlled panel.

"It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse," said City Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster, one of the few Bronx officials opposing the new stadium.
And like the Bronx Terminal Market agreement one of the most egregious shortfalls with the Yankees deal is that the community has never been involved in the negotiations and therefore its concessions are minimal and enforceability suspect.

Bronx Community Board 4 member Lukas Herbert sums up document nicely:

After he read the eight-page draft yesterday, Mr. Herbert called the $28 million trust fund a "slush fund."

"This thing is disgraceful," he said. "It's going to be controlled by the Bronx political machine — the very people who sold out the community in the first place."
We must also mention that Councilwoman Helen Foster has been one of the few elected officials who has stood by her community:

"Everything we hear is about how this is going to be a better thing for the Yankees and their fans. But I don't care about the Yankees, I care about my constituents," she said.