Monday, December 01, 2008

Entitlement Program

We've often accused the Bloombergistas of a sense of entitlement-something that begins at the top with the regal pretensions of a mega rich mayor. In Saturday's NY Times, an article on the backroom kanoodling over the Yankee Stadium deal, underscores this droit du seignior attitude as well as anything we have seen: "The Bloomberg administration was so intent on obtaining a free luxury suite for its own use at the new Yankee Stadium, newly released e-mail messages show, that the mayor’s aides pushed for a larger suite and free food, and eventually gave the Yankees 250 additional parking spaces in exchange."

Much of this comes out in those e-mails that were obtained by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a lawmaker who's distinguished himself in the investigation of the Yankee excess: "Mr. Brodsky said what emerges from the e-mail correspondence is a sense of entitlement ingrained in Bloomberg officials. He said that the city appeared to be pushing for use of the suite for not just regular-season games, but for the playoffs and the World Series, and for special events like concerts, too. “There’s this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to the question of, what is the public interest here and who’s protecting it?” said Mr. Brodsky, who conducted a hearing on the issue of public financing of sports stadiums this summer. “We can’t find the money for the M.T.A., or schools, or hospitals, and these folks are used to the perks and good things of life, and expect them.”

Given the fact that the Yankees were able to bogart badly needed South Bronx parkland for their new digs, you'd think that the business savvy cohort around the mayor could do a little better bargain for beleaguered tax payers than a mere luxury suite. And these are the folks who, because they are beholden to no special interests, are best able to zealously guard the public good?

In the end, this all has the flavor of sheer privilege: "The city maintains it was simply trying to obtain a luxury suite comparable to that given to other cities involved in stadium or arena projects. But the message traffic, which dates to January 2006, raises questions, too, about how sincere city officials were when they recently stated publicly that the box could be used to reward outstanding city workers, rather than mainly for the mayor, dignitaries and aides."

And the city pushed hard, something they surely avoided doing for the area's parks: "In response to recent questions from reporters, Mr. Pinsky, who is now the president of the Economic Development Corporation, has played down the importance of the luxury suite, saying he did not understand what all the fuss was about.But the messages show that he and other aides were anything but casual about the matter, with issues like the location and size of the box of obvious concern."

And then there's the food-with chicken fingers and hot dogs elevated into a public policy concern for the good Bloomberg burghers: "In one message dated July 26, 2006, Stephen Lefkowitz, a Yankees lawyer, wrote to Mr. Pinsky: “Seth — Randy believes he told you ‘no food’ and that you agreed. If this is so, please let me know and we can drop this from our list of irritants.”
The city, of course, disagreed. And that prompted Mr. Lefkowitz to respond this way: “It’s really ridiculous, but it sticks like a bone in everyone’s craw. The Yankees feel the city should pay for any food it wants to consume, and I think it’s a little unseemly to require ‘free’ food.”

It appears that nothing stands in the way of people-from a certain class, of course-looking to exercise their rights to privilege. The Yankee Stadium deal making exposes these self serving frauds for what they are-class conscious and self interested.