Friday, January 16, 2009

At IDA hearing, Brodsky warns of "complete breakdown of the issuance of public debt"

An array of people, notably Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, testified yesterday at a hearing of the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) on additional tax-exempt bonds for the New York Yankees and New York Mets.

Neil deMause has the highlights in the Village Voice blog, quoting Brodsky: "This event and this vote and this hurried process is only greater evidence of the complete breakdown of the issuance of public debt in New York State."

The IDA is scheduled to vote today. (Here's coverage from the Times and Newsday.)

Good Jobs New York has collected testimony. Michael D.D. White of Noticing New York offers observations on the scene--good government groups, construction workers, Bronx supporters of the Yankees--and his own testimony, questioning the legitimacy of the process and observing:
Financing additional luxuries at the stadiums induces no additional public benefit. It is only a way heap more financial benefit on those already flush with benefit.

Columnist Neil Best of Newsday shrugs, suggesting the tax-exempt bonds are "hardly a handout." (The Daily News, in an editorial, praises the deal.)

"Privately financed"?

Good Jobs New York testified on the issue that led to heated colloquys Wednesday between Brodsky, NYC IDA Chairman Seth Pinsky, and Yankees President Randy Levine:
Despite claims from the city that these projects are “privately financed,” the teams have gotten tax-free financing, grants, tax-breaks, the teams won’t pay rent, and the Yankees got parkland for the new stadium for free. Good Jobs New York estimates taxpayers have already invested over $1 billion for the new Yankee Stadium, and almost half a billion for the Mets’ new stadium.

If these projects were indeed privately financed – as City Hall has relentlessly insisted this week - why did the city, on the Yankees and Mets’ behalf, spend significant time and resources lobbying the Internal Revenue Service to allow the IDA to issue tax-free bonds for the project? Getting special permission from the IRS for a public authority to issue a financial package that consists of tax-exempt bonds, a variety of tax breaks, and significant capital costs to a city agency would fail to meet any definition of a private transaction.


A Times editorial--and another

Oh, and deMause notes a Times editorial yesterday:
Hating on the New York Yankees stadium deal after the fact is the new black. The The New York Times - which called the Yanks and Mets deals "a steal" compared to past city proposals back in 2005 - today calls on its editorial page for the latest round of Yankees bonds to be rejected.

Regarding Atlantic Yards, as I've pointed out, the Times has gone in the other direction, conveniently forgetting that it once opposed $200 million in city and state direct subsidies.

White concludes similarly:
Now all we need is for the Times to get similarly responsible on a bunch of other city development issues. The first priority for their next move? They should take up the issues that affect Forest City Ratner, their real estate partner: the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment.

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