Friday, January 09, 2009

Yanking Our Chain

Juan Gonzales continues his crusade against the egregious exploitation of NYC Tax payers by the Bloombergistas-and their partner in crime, the New York Yankees: "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."

This news comes on top of the Citizens Budget Commission report that underscores just how well Mike Bloomberg (and the city council) has given away the store to the public work force-also at the expense of the city's hapless tax payers. But the stadium is a monument to the mayor's arrogant disregard for reining in costs: "The itemized list of extra stadium costs that city officials released this week is truly astounding. There's $137million to pay for concessions at the new stadium - including a swank new Yankees Steakhouse, a Hard Rock Cafe, a museum and a conference center. The Yankees added most of those items to the stadium budget after the city approved the original financing plan."

Critics of the additional funding are calling for a new hearing before the bond vote next week: "This is bizarre," said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), a longtime critic of the stadium deal. "We don't have enough money for our schools or the subways, yet they want to give the Yankees money for a steakhouse and granite ramps?" Brodsky joined Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn) to call an emergency public hearing for Wednesday to review the Yankees' new request."

Clearly, the new stadium, sitting on top of the grave yard of Mullaly Park, is going to be an exquisite example of high class amenities, but why so at the public expense? As Gonzales argues: "Team officials, it seems, are sparing no expense to make this the most luxurious, high-tech structure ever imagined. They have a perfect right to splurge in any way they wish - with their own money. When they're getting a tax break, it's another matter."

Yankee Stadium will end up costing double what the Mets ball park will cost-and the level of subsidy, when seen on top of the callous despoliation of neighborhood green space, will dramatize and characterize just what kind of mindset the mayor brings to economic development: monuments to luxury and excess that treat local folks as nonexistent appendages to private sector greed.