Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Daily News Evolves

The NY Daily News editorializes this morning on the fate of the Kingsbridge Armory-and surprising takes a rather mild position in support of the plan, and fails to excoriate those who are pushing hard for a living wage: "Now the matter rests with the City Council. There, Councilman Joel Rivera and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. are threatening to scuttle the deal unless Related agrees to require tenants to pay workers a special minimum wage - $10 an hour with benefits, $11.50 without. The legal minimum wage in New York is $7.25 an hour...Think about the numbers here: The fate of a megaproject hinges on a salary differential of, at most, $4.25 per hour, a figure that would lift the annual wage from $14,500 a year to $23,000."

And the paper goes on to say: "Such is how bad the jobs picture and downward pressure on incomes are. One amount represents a life in poverty, while the other buys life on the margins. Unfortunately, that's what the market now bears, and Diaz and Rivera ought to proceed with care. With good intentions, they may well be on their way to killing, for many years to come, a development that would be a shot in the arm, however meager the wages."

But does the market bear it? And do we simply take the word of Related? The News recognizes the reality of depressed wages-and rightly points out that the proposed wage scale, "represents a life in poverty." Yet it can't bring itself to support the call for a living wage.

Still, the tone of the editorial is certainly a change for the paper that would normally issue a stentorian call for the development's passage-and "Knucklehead Awards" to Diaz and Rivera for their obstructionism. So, as the fate of the project hangs in the balance, even the Daily News recognizes that the KARA and RWDSU-led fight to lift wages has merit.

As the paper poignantly pointed out in the opening of its editorial: "The battle over renovating the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a shopping mall has opened a window onto the depressing facts of working-class life in New York." Now the council has the opportunity to strike a blow for change-a living wage, and no subsidized retail uses that cripple existing local supermarkets. Let's hope it does just that. If the Daily News sees the new dawn, so should Mike Bloomberg.