Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bobble-Head Bloomberg at Yankee Stadium

In this morning's NY Daily News, Juan Gonzales zeroes-in on more Yankee Stadium boondoggling, a focus of Richard Brodsky's Assembly hearing today: "Brodsky, who heads the assembly committee that oversees public authorities, demanded the documents after learning last month that the city's Industrial Development Agency was backing a Yankee request for $366 million in additional tax-exempt financing to complete the Bronx project. The new request comes on top of the $942 million in taxexempt bonds the Yankees have received. Brodsky has scheduled a public hearing today on the entire project. It is likely to be the toughest public review the $1.3 billion stadium has received."

What gets us here is the over inflation by the mayor of all the job creation: "According to other documents IDA released to Brodsky, Mayor Bloomberg and former Gov. George Pataki greatly exaggerated the number of permanent jobs the new Yankee stadium will produce. At the groundbreaking in August 2006, Bloomberg announced that the new stadium would "result in about 1,000 permanent jobs." The actual job figures the Yankees submitted in their application to the IDA told a far different story. They show the Yankees had only 104 full-time permanent employees in 2005. Included in that total were all team executives, ballplayers, office workers and maintenance personnel. Barely half were city residents."

Is that the "progress" that Bloomberg is always talking about? Or is it just an old fashioned giveaway from the guy who isn't beholden to the special interests? It certainly looks as if the folks at Good Jobs NY had it right when they wrote the expose on all of this scamming: "To seize public parklands, win rapid permitting, and land massive taxpayer subsidies for their new stadium in the South Bronx, the New York Yankees hired numerous former public officials and benefited from the actions of a few current elected officials to play insider baseball, shutting out Bronx residents and New York City taxpayers."

And what about all of those jobs? In another report GJNY wrote: "Subsidizing this stadium is a costly and inefficient strategy for creating jobs. Even by the city’s account, many of the “permanent jobs” created by this project will be seasonal and low-wage. Compared to other uses of the money, it is difficult to justify spending and foregoing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for poorly compensated jobs such as ticket takers, ushers, vendors,restaurant workers, and parking lot attendants. Jobs such as these would not effectively address thealarmingly high rates of poverty and unemployment in the stadium’s South Bronx community – the U.S. Congressional district with the nation’s highest rate of poverty. The surrounding community has been excluded from the planning process. Despite the massive sizeof this project, little or no effort was made to include community residents in its development. This topdown approach has created resentment among many residents, park advocates, and transportation groups. Public officials have taken great pains to expedite the public review and subsidy allocation processes while obscuring the deal from local residents. As a result, many residents believe the new stadium would not address the long standing needs and concerns of their community."

And let's not forget, Mayor Mike, how this deal-along with the Gateway Mall-makes a mockery of all of your sustainable development malarkey. As Good Jobs points out: "It was June 2005, and residents of the South Bronx enjoyed the return of summer while playing in their cherished Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks. They had no idea that in these waning days of the legislative session in Albany city and state representatives were stealthily preparing to introduce "emergency" legislation in Albany that would seize the parks."

This is all along "Asthma Alley." As the GJNY earlier report points out: "The state-legislated seizure of two parks – Macomb’s Dam Park and sections of John Mulally Park –sent shockwaves through the area. Together they function as the South Bronx’s Central Park,and Macomb’s Dam Park would be entirely lost to the stadium and parking garages. The Bronx Borough President and local officials seek to plan replacement parks, but these plans have fallen short of what the community currently has. Instead, smaller parks would be sprawled about the area of Yankee
stadium. New recreational space is even proposed for the roofs of the parking garages, not ideal for a neighborhood with one of the highest asthma rates in the city. Other new park space would have to compete with the sounds of elevated subways and shadows from the new stadium."

Quite a story indeed, but kudos to Brodsky for looking to expose all of the shenanigans that have, so far, left the community without its promised parks, with one designated park spot full of contamination. And Adolfo Carrion wants to be comptroller? All of this is part of the mayor's tawdry legacy of promoting the special interests above the common good of the city.