Friday, December 18, 2009

Selective Outrage

The NY Post was predictably outraged by the city council's decision to vote down the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment plan-and says so while commenting on the mayor's veto of the vote: "Mayor Mike yesterday vetoed that City Council measure killing a proposal to develop the Kingsbridge Armory in The Bronx. The council is poised to override the veto, so it's unlikely to have any practical effect -- but symbols count, so good for the mayor for sticking up for jobs in the city's poorest borough."

And in the process, the paper unleashed its wrath on Bronx BP Ruben Diaz-and his community benefits "shakedown." "Diaz, along with his union allies, was most immediately incensed that developer Related Cos. refused to require retailers to pay workers well-above-market wages -- a demand Related said would scare away all potential tenants. But it turns out that's just a wee bit of the command-and-control economy envisioned by the beep. Indeed, Diaz's proposed "community-benefits agreement" -- that's code for the City Council-sanctioned shakedowns typically imposed on businesses with the temerity to invest in New York's future -- was breathtakingly arrogant."

Well, we didn't see the Post say one word about how Deputy Mayor Doctoroff simply handed over the Bronx Terminal Market to his long time friend and business partner Steve Ross, who happens to be the CEO of the same Related Companies that was "awarded" the Armory in what is alleged to be a competitive bidding process. That's right-handed over without any money exchanging hands in the absence of a public bidding process. The Post was silent while all of the other city papers wrote long exposes on the tawdriness of this giveaway.

Related was allowed to come in and take over an existing lease from a corrupt landlord-who was immediately made Related's partner in the ongoing development of what is now the Gateway Mall. And to this day, Related is advancing rent payments to the city that are less than those paid five years ago by the twenty food wholesalers who the city evicted in this Bronx heist.

So the Post's message is that sweetheart deals for billion dollar real estate firms are okay, but demanding living wages for retail workers is armed robbery: "All that was missing, frankly, was a mask and a gun. Clearly, if one seeks to do business in The Bronx, one plays by Diaz's rules." Clearly, the paper prefers the supine leadership of former BP Adolfo Carrion who also crafted a community benefits agreement with the piblic spirited aid of Jesse Masyr, Related's hired gun.

And Doctoroff did all of this with the blessing of the city's conflicts of interest board who ruled, contrary to all evidence and common sense, that the Docotoroff/Ross friendship predated the entry of Deputy Dan into government-overlooking the Olympic Committee loan that Ross took over from Dan and the fact that he also took over leadership of the effort to bring the games to New York, the major policy thrust of the first Bloomberg term.

So in our view, the Post should save its breathe and stop the selective outrage. Until the paper is willing to shine an honest light on the "patricianage" of the Bloombergistas-and the special relationship between the city and Related, it should have the decency to just keep silent; otherwise we will be led to believe that without double standards, the paper wouldn't have any standards at all.