Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sports facilities win as libraries lose: Times columnist points to New Jersey, but the case is even stronger in New York City

Following up on some tough coverage of how stadiums in New Jersey soak taxpayers, New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey today points out the parlous state of Camden libraries, which will be closed now on Fridays.

He writes:
Obviously, there is no direct economic link between stadiums new and vanished and libraries shuttered or unshuttered. But the cost of extravagant new stadiums all over the country suggests a skewed sense of priorities in all of us.
Bringing it home

Um, actually, there is a link. Right here in New York City.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg wanted to cut libraries by, oh, about $75 million. Most of that proposal was scaled back to "only" about $15 million, so five-day service was "saved," which is another way of saying a day of service was lost.

The city gave $100 million in direct subsidies for Atlantic Yards, then added $105 million, and since has said--though it's questionable--that the total is under $180 million.

Either way, that's money that could have gone to libraries (unlike in New Jersey, where Camden libraries rely mainly on city, not state funds).

Comments on the first article

The original article obviously struck a chord, generating 287 comments, nearly all critical of subsidies. (One pointed out that none of this would surprise readers of Neil deMause's Field of Schemes book and site.)

A few were about Brooklyn.

Brooklyn commenter Brian Hoffman wrote,
What a timely article! A few short months after ground is broken for the Barclay's Center, the Times finally runs an article critical of publicly-financed stadiums. Hilarious.
Brooklynite Kim W. commented:
To all my fellow Brooklyn residents --

NOW do you understand why so many of us are opposed to the Atlantic Yards Project?


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