Monday, July 14, 2008

"South Bronx, No Thonx"

In yesterday's NY Times the paper remarks on the theme that Juan Gonzalez has been trumpeting: the redlining of the folks in the South Bronx by the Yankees and MLB. As the Times points out: "Three weeks ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared that the All-Star Game, to be played Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, would put the revival of the South Bronx in the national spotlight. Major League Baseball seems not to have gotten the memo. Planners for the event overlooked the neighborhood where it will take place."

The real victims in all of this? The Little Leaguers who have been shut out: "There are some 1,000 youngsters in Little League in the South Bronx. They are overwhelmingly Hispanic — Puerto Rican, Dominican and, increasingly, Mexican. They represent the nation’s fastest-growing population, and none of them have a prayer of seeing their All-Star heroes. A few free seats, given by lottery, would have earned a lot of good will at little cost."

But why should MLB look after the kids in the South Bronx when the area's elected officials failed to do so when they teamed up to alienate community parks with absolutely no public debate? And the deal that was subsequently crafted around the building of a new stadium should have raised red flags in the editorial board room of the Times; but it didn't.

The paper supported the charade with the following: "The Yankees worked hard to win over Bronx officials with a community benefits agreement. Some of it is the stuff of bread and circuses: 15,000 free tickets for distribution every season (hopefully not just to the well-connected). And some of it is real, including $1 million for job training and hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual community grants.
The Yankees also promise to spend $8 million on improving local parks, which should partly compensate for the green space the stadium will take away. On the whole, the agreement is a good start toward restitution for the many years in which the team, the richest sports franchise in the land, largely ignored residents of the disadvantaged South Bronx."

Perhaps the Times would have been more skeptical in its observations if George Bush was the fellow spearheading the stadium deal. It's amazing how often the paper suspends its disbelief around real estate deals in NYC that disadvantage poor people and small business. Its so-called progressive stance is inversely proportional to the geographic distance an issue or event has from the paper's corporate headquarters.

The Times concludes with the following: "The South Bronx deserves another look, not the snub it got from baseball’s executive suite." It should apply this critique to its own editorialists, folks who apparently can't grasp corporate greed and political malfeasance when it takes place almost in front of their eyes.