Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lunacy in the Eye of the Beholder

We continue to be amazed by the vitriolic misdirection of some of the chattering classes over the defeat of the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. As we have already said, but given the continued misrepresentations, we need to reiterate-this was a bad deal from the jump; and the failure to craft a deal over wages was the final nail in the bad deal's coffin.

But along comes the NY Post's Steve Cuozzo to add his 1 1/2 cents to the discussion-crying out that, "the lunatics," are in charge: "With its vote to kill the Kingsbridge Armory deal, the City Council has put everyone on notice: Don't bother trying to make New York a better town unless you're willing to pay a truly massive bribe. The council's members claim they scuttled the scheme to build a shopping mall in the long-vacant Bronx property over the developer's refusal to require tenants to pay workers a so-called "living" wage. But the vote was actually on a land-use question -- the politicians just added on an impossible demand as a side condition. With the lunatic fringe now at the throttle, anything's possible."

We wonder where Cuozzo was when Bloomberg's deputy mayor Doctoroff evicted the tenants from the Bronx Terminal Market and handed the property over-no fee, no bid-to his friend Steve Ross at Related? Or when the city allowed Related to acquire property adjacent to its mall in Brooklyn-once again without any bidding process. Or when, after being on the verge of defaulting in its successful bid for the Bradhusrst development site, Doctoroff rescued the company by sending it the extra $5 million that the Giuliani folks had refused to do because of the company's non-compliance?

This, in Cuozzo's world isn't lunacy, it's business as usual where favoritism and sweetheart no bid contracts are de riguer. And in the sane planet that people like Cuozzo live on it's all right to take tax money and subsidize national chains to put the local shops at risk-even when these local stores have never been given a dime of city money after years of diligently paying their tithe to an over spending city government.

So the council said no to the same old, same old, rich get richer land use policy-and the swells are screaming; indicating that the legislature is doing something right. What the council vote indicates, is that people are waking up to the fact that Mike Bloomberg and his deputies-all refugees from (some failed) Wall Street enterprises-haven't a clue about the kind of suffering their policies have inflicted on the citizens of boroughs like the Bronx.

And if the city's gonna use its tax dollars for economic development than the money should be directed to aiding the small businesses that are crying out for help to the deaf ears at city hall. Now we are not uncritical fans of the Small Business Protection Act that the mayor can not tolerate, but its advancement and support in the city council is an indication of just how bad things have gotten for neighborhood shops under the eight year Bloomberg watch. But this is hardship that only the lunatics can apparently see clearly.

But let's be clear, the Armory deal was a bad one-and, as we have argued, there are ample environmental reasons for saying so. But ULURP shouldn't be seen narrowly because these land development deals are never determined by their environmental impacts-and perhaps the statute should be changed to reflect that. Does any one think that the land use effort leading to the use of eminent domain and the eviction of businesses from Willets Point was decided on its environmental impact? If any one had really examined this flawed, trumped up EIS they would have discovered a traffic nightmare that is simply unmitigatible. But so what! Only a lunatic would be concerned about that!

It's the role of the city council to pass judgment on the economic decisions of the mayor-and ULURP is the only methodology in place. And the opposition understood this and provided the scrupulous traffic and socio-economic impact data that the city and the developer-as per usual-failed to provide with any degree of righteousness.

So Cuozzo's observation here is off the mark: "The council wasn't empowered to adopt a far-left socioeconomic agenda promoted by Bronx demagogues who claim to speak for the "community." The City Charter (sections 197C and D, which cover ULURP) gives the council latitude involving "use, development or improvement" of property. But not even the most liberal interpretation of "use" covers such extraneous matters as how much employees at a location are to be paid. Yes, some council members and their far-left enablers are shamelessly crowing that they killed Kingsbridge over wages. That neatly skips past the indisputable fact that they acted in defiance of the charter's clear intent -- and did so to stop a long-empty landmark from filling up with stores, life and commerce."

What this battle symbolized is a change of perspective that will hold Mike Bloomberg's limited world view to a higher standard. As the NY Times' Jim Dwyer pointed out yesterday: "The shining city of New York opened for business Tuesday morning, one day after the normally very obedient and housebroken City Council rose up against the mayor and voted down a heavily subsidized shopping mall development at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx...In any case, there were more primal forces at work than a debate over the economics of the living wage. It turns out that even the docile Council has decided that it’s safe to stick a finger in Michael R. Bloomberg’s eye. This may turn out be a long four years for him..."

No longer will the legislature go on maneuvers for political battle with both hands in the air in preparation for surrendering. If the mayor is going to unwisely use tax dollars to subsidize some of the city's richest corporations, than in the parlance of the Bronx: "Not for nothing." And if that's lunacy, than call us crazy!