Monday, October 19, 2009

The "aggressive enough press"? The lapses mount, and the Atlantic Yards arena bonds issue might become a prime example

Remember, Mayor Mike Bloomberg last week said he wants to get rid of the Public Advocate's office because, among other things, "we have an aggressive enough press."

Nah.

I could point to several examples, such as the press's unwillingness to look at the KPMG Atlantic Yards market study, the very mixed record in June regarding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's renegotiation of the Atlantic Yards deal, and the resignation of Department of Finance Commissioner Martha Stark.

But here are a couple just from last week's (non-daily) press, with emphases added. The last example, of course, involves Atlantic Yards.

The Department of Buildings

From a 10/12/09 City Hall News interview with 2005 Democratic mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer, headlined The Veteran:
CH: How has the mayor changed as a candidate from four years ago?

FF: I don’t think he’s changed at all. I think his modus operandi for conducting the campaign is precisely the same. Spend everything you can, to nail down as much support as you can, because that kind of money buys a lot of support and even a considerable amount of people, and, you know, be a salesman. But I think after eight years New Yorkers are scratching their heads going, “Hey, wait a minute.” Not only was the term limits power grab objectionable enough, and it’s probably the straw that breaks the camel’s back in this case, but then we begin to look at all those policies. “I have an MTA plan.” Well, where have you been for the last eight years? “I have an economic development plan, I’m going to produce 400,000 jobs.” Again, where have you been for the last eight years? And by the way, the debacles! Let’s see, apart from the fact that cranes fell down on people, and how many people needed to be killed and property needed to be damaged before you figured out you needed a new commissioner at the department of buildings? As it turns out, the Luchese crime family got hold of a city agency? And this isn’t the cause of a major scandal in this city? Excuse me? But not only are apparently politicians at City Hall asleep on their jobs, but so are newspapers. This isn’t a major scandal in this city? Come on!
The vending machine scandal

From a Tom Robbins column in this week's Village Voice, headlined Mayor Bloomberg's School-Snack Bungle: Vending machine politics:
Fast-forward to last month, when the Bloomberg people were revving up media interest in the new healthy vending plan. As they broached this wonderful idea, they also quietly let drop that the Snapple deal had fallen short by at least $5 million, and that the city was ending its contract with the beverage company.

Another mayor in another time—back when newspapers cared more about the business of government—might have suffered a few bad press days after this kind of embarrassing flub. Bloomberg has no such fears. The news was relegated to one line in one paper, and that was that.
Bonds for sports facilities

From Wayne Barrett's Village Voice feature this week, headlined A Bloomberg Score Card: The Mayor's Hits and Misses:
The evidence that top officials of the Bloomberg administration reversed land assessments for the Yankees deal to artificially jack up the value in order to qualify for the tax-exempt financing is overwhelming and would—in a time when a good scandal had staying power in New York—make Bloomberg wince at the thought of an election eve parade. E-mails like one from a top aide to Deputy Mayor Doctoroff explicitly said they were making the assessment "so high" in an attempt "to support the tax-exempt financing."

By December, the Bloomberg administration will replicate its scandal-ridden history of bonding these projects by supporting the issuance of $678 million in state tax-exempt bonds for the Nets. The IBO estimates that the arena will also cost the city $350 million, combining direct and indirect subsidies, concluding that it will lose at least $40 million over the life of the deal, assuming the most optimistic revenue projections. Salty Mike's response to the unstated, apolitical IBO: "I don't know what the IBO studies would have shown back when they tried to establish the value of Central Park."

1 comment:

  1. I attended the walkathon and found media coverage thereat to be very wanting. I was actually interviewed by someone from New York 1, but New York 1 never even ran anything about the walk.

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