Thursday, January 15, 2009

Randy Rhetoric

Co-opting the sports axiom that, "the best defense is a good offense," the Yankees' Randy Levine took off on Assemblyman Richard Brodsky yesterday, claiming that he belonged in the "Grandstanding Hall of Fame." As the NY Times reports: "Mr. Brodsky, as I said in my testimony before Congress a few months ago, your behavior in this entire matter is worthy of the Grandstanding Hall of Fame,” said Mr. Levine, who then criticized the assemblyman’s support of tax incentives to Monticello Raceway and campaign contributions from entities “involved” with the track. “The tone of hostility,” Mr. Brodsky said, “is not appropriate, or the accusations.”

Here's how the NY Post lays out the Levine offensive; what it calls a "bean ball" war: "The battle over the new Yankee Stadium produced more drama yesterday than a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Club President Randy Levine, speaking at a state Assembly hearing in Manhattan, called the project's main critic "disgraceful." And the city's economic-development chief, Seth Pinsky, accused the critic, Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, of "deliberately misrepresenting the facts."

Of course, this kind of political theater serves to distract attention away from just how bad this stadium deal is. The Times captures this in this morning's editorial: "Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the development agency should renegotiate this latest round of what has always been an incredibly generous deal for one of the richest teams in the country. At a very minimum, they should insist that the Yankees pick up more of the city’s share of the project, which now amounts to $362 million."

Will Mike Bloomberg listen-and admit error in this boondoggle? Not a chance! And will the NY Times hold this-and other examples of expensive patricianage-against Bloomberg when he runs this fall? Again, not a chance. Just as the paper swallowed its principles on campaign finance to endorse the mayor in 2005-after he broke the pledge not to spend as lavishly as he did to get elected the first time.

But the stadium deal is what passes for economic development with the Bloombergistas-big deals for the big guys; and bubkas for the rest of us. Juan Gonzales captured this in his column last week, and he deserves the last word on this outrage: "Less than three years after they got $942 million in tax-free bonds for a new Bronx stadium, the Yankees are at the public trough again. With our city facing the worst financial crisis since the Depression, and more than 200,000 people expected to lose their jobs by the end of the year, baseball's richest team wants another $260 million in tax-free bonds to help cover a stadium cost overrun of $370 million."