Tuesday, April 05, 2005

NY Times: "Your government subsidies are a dastardly outrage. Our government subsidies ... shhh ... what government subsidies?"

NY Times op-eder Bob Herbert yesterday wrote at least his second column damning the city government's support for a new pro football stadium in the city. This following a recent editorial by the paper that did the same and also condemned city support for a proposed new Yankee Stadium (while somehow neglecting to note that the Times is co-owner of the Yankees' arch rival Boston Red Sox!).

Yet the Times' editorial page writers for some reason never mention either its own $170 million in tax subsidies extracted from the government for its new state of the art office building going up on 41st Street -- even while selling its old building at a big profit -- or the fact that rather than pay market price to the owners of the midtown building site for the land, the Times used its political clout to have the government condemn and take the land on its behalf by eminent domain.

How much below market price the Times paid is hard to say, because neither the Times nor the government released the appraisals they used to the public. But a neighboring similar lot sold for double the price on the open market.

Ironically (but hardly surprisingly) just as the Times' eminent domain seizure was going through, the Times op-ed tag team of Kristof, Krugman and Herbert were all savaging George W. Bush for profiting while an owner of baseball's Texas Rangers from the government's eminent domain taking of land to build the Rangers' new stadium in Arlington, Texas. But there was nary a word from any of them about the Time's own eminent taking of a prime block of midtown Manhattan -- filled with operating businesses that didn't want to move -- for its own profit.

Not that the Times's dealings weren't noticed by others, such as Jonathan Rauch, Jack Shafer, Deroy Murdock, and 60 Minutes -- so they weren't exactly a secret from the Times editorial page writers. Apparently there is just a notable lack of interest in the Times' own actions on the Times' editorial page, so a rather different standard of outrage applies.

By the way, one difference between the Rangers' Arlington deal and the Time's midtown Manhattan property seizure/tax subsidy is that the Arlington deal was put to a vote after much public debate and the citizenry voted in favor of it by more than 2 to 1. (Something else never noted by the Times' critics of it).

What do you suppose would have been the result of a public vote on the handouts to the Times?