Thursday, December 09, 2004
The NFL's New York Jets want to build a new football stadium on the west side of Manhattan, and the Mayor wants the city to contribute financing to the project so the stadium will tie into the city's convention center and can be used to host conventions and trade shows all year round. No need to go into the merits of the project at the moment here.
Over the weekend the Times weighed in on this in an editorial that is oh so typical.
Opposing the spending of "public money" on private-sector beneficiaries, the Times seeks to impress by critiquing project details...
... the [Metropolitan Transit Authority] has other priorities, most notably the expansion of the No. 2 subway line on the East Side. That's the longtime dream of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who happens to represent the Lower East Side. Rather than wait for the No. 2 to be finished or for Mr. Silver to retire, neither of which seems likely to happen in Mr. Bloomberg's political lifetime, the mayor's team has decided that the city should use its own money...Now if you are a NYCer you may be either confused or holding your head in your hands at this point. The No. 2 line was completed, oh, about 100 years ago.
The Times has confused it with the infamous Second Avenue Subway -- a black hole of the unique kind that only politicians can create, which for decades has been sucking hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars into a theoretical point, located somewhere on Second Avenue in the 70s, that is invisible to the human eye.
In situations where people in other parts of America might say "Pigs will fly", New Yorkers say "Second Avenue Subway" ... except for the Times' editors, who say "No. 2 line". (And who also talk about the "expansion" of a line that doesn't exist.)
As for the larger point of the wrong of using public money and government influence to benefit private-sector parties ... Was I mistaken in thinking that a certain NYC newspaper got the local government to use its eminent domain powers to evict scores of going business from blocks in midtown Manhattan, so it could flatten those blocks to qualify them as a "greenfield", so it could qualify for millions of dollars worth of government subsidies on the financing of its new for-profit "state of the art" office building ... which will provide very nice new offices for its editorial board?
I don't think so.
The Times, on why the city shouldn't heed any threat that the Jets might move...
... the threat isn't that a professional sports team will depart, or fail to arrive, if the proper stadium isn't available. For the Jets, leaving the New York metropolitan area would mean abandoning the biggest media market in the nation...See, a threat has to be more credible than that to work, as the Times knows first hand...
The Times proposed the deal to city and state officials in an October 19, 1999, letter from vice chairman Michael Golden. He offered two "scenarios": The Times would remain on 43rd Street but move 750 jobs to a new facility in Edison, New Jersey, or it would sell its headquarters and build a new one in Times Square. He claimed it would cost the Times $135 million more over 30 years to keep the jobs in New York, and indicated that he expected government to fill the "gap"...
BTW, Bob Herbert a short while back wrote a column that was really pretty tough on the idea of public subsidies for this privately-owned facility, "Feed the Billionaire, Starve the Students".
I do hope he appreciates the view from his nice new taxpayer-subsidized midtown office -- because it's sure going to beat observing the world from Edison, New Jersey.