Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweetheart Double Standards

The NY Post has been waging an all out assault on Brooklyn assemblyman Vito Lopez-and its latest installment accuses him (or really, his surrogates) of benefiting from a sweetheart rent deal: "It's the grandaddy of all sweetheart deals. First the city gave away land to a senior-citizens group linked to Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez. Now the city pays sky-high rent to the Lopez-founded group for the same property. "It's kooky -- the city is paying for something it doesn't have to," said a city official who looked into the matter."

Now we don't know the details of this deal, or how and by whom it was negotiated-but then again, neither does the Post. And we're quite sure that, "kooky," isn't the equivalent of illegal. That doesn't stop the Post from tarring the assemblyman with a broad biased brush -even though it has no evidence of any untoward actions by Lopez. It might have, just as unfairly, had Mayor Bloomberg's picture grace the story-after all, it was the city that negotiated and signed off on this kookiness.

But the unfairness gets worse, because after the tarnishing headlines and lede, we find out the following: "City officials defended the arrangement with Ridgewood Bushwick, saying the Diana Jones center is one of the city's best-performing senior centers and has innovative programming like art exhibitions featuring neighborhood artists. "The Diana Jones Senior Center is a state-of-the-art facility that seniors love and its rent per square footage is well within norm," Aging Department spokesman Christopher Miller said."

So apparently, the only ones who really gets a sweetheart deal out of this are the Bushwick seniors who get to experience the Diana Jones innovative programming-but to find this out, you would have to wade down past the Lopez calumny. Which brings to mind the actual granddaddy of all sweetheart deals-the deeding over of the Bronx Terminal Market in a no bid contract by Deputy Dan Doctoroff to his close friend Steve Ross, CEO of the high powered Related Company.

In searching the Post web site, however, there is no mention of the sweetheart nature of that deal-one that saw the eviction of 22 mostly minority wholesalers. There is, though, the following comment from EDC's Seth Pinsky about Related and the BTM-a comment made in response to Related's ill-fated plan for the Kingsbridge Armory: "Pinsky said Related, which built Manhattan's Time Warner Center and won the right to redevelop the Bronx Terminal Market into a retail center, plans to recruit a destination-type department store for the project."

But, "won," is generally understood to be something that occurs subsequent to a contest-just what was absent in the collusion between Doctoroff and Ross. But all of this goes as business as usual for the Post-a place where sweetheart deals are only seen within the purview of Democratic pols that they are after. And we'll say this about the Bushwick senior center-it never evicted anyone; let alone minority business owners that are seem by the Bloombergistas and their apologists as little more than trash to be tossed aside.