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So, what if owners/operators of sports venues had to pay taxes? An op-ed for City Limits makes the case.

Harvey Robins, a longtime government and organization official, wrote a pointed 6/9 essay for City Limits, Opinion: After Decades Of Rules Benefiting NYC’s Corporate Elites, Let’s Put Public Back In Public Policy.

He recalls that, despite the recession when he served as director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations for David Dinkins, they could "identify cuts and savings—even as we sidestepped deep cuts to core neighborhood services, and redirected capital spending to focus on building and rehabilitating affordable housing in undeserved neighborhoods."

How? "We merged agencies, slashed overtime spending in the Police and Corrections departments, cut back on fleets of city cars, and challenged archaic union work rules." And they offered "a ruthlessly honest report card" on city agencies.

His proposals: 
--tougher labor laws, and more inspectors to enforce existing laws against such things as wage theft
--fund parks by forcing owners/operators of sports venues to finally pay property taxes, an average of $50 million a year
--demand that elite institutions like universities and hospitals to pay property taxes, including for their staff housing
--create a public bank to serve lower income communities and affordable housing and local businesses
--promise living wages to city unions while reforming "ossified labor rules" that, for example, offer unlimited sick leave for corrections officers

He doesn't get to the politics of it all, but it surely would start with leadership. And those elected leaders often rely on political support and campaign funding from some of those benefitting from the current system.

So it wouldn't be easy. But it's good to have the alternatives.

About wage theft 

His point about wage theft is an important one. Alec Karakatsanis writes in his newsletter:
Measured in dollars, total estimated wage theft is more devastating than all other property crime combined. And unlike theft from big retail outlets, wage theft is *by companies* with money from workers, many of whom struggle to meet basic necessities of life.

I don't think theft from big retail outlets should be easily dismissed, but, unlike those highly publicized episodes, caught on video and shared widely, wage theft happens more quietly and is harder to document. 

As Maurizio Guerrero recently reported for Documented:
At least 15 wage theft cases involving several workers had been associated with 199 Lee Ave, [a mail drop in Williamsburg] according to three different nonprofit organizations — Catholic Migration Services, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and Make the Road New York. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another revenue source

I suspect much more revenue could be raised by enforcing fines regarding illegal parking and idling, say, around the Barclays Center, or ensuring that scofflaws who don't pay traffic fines actually pay up.

Beyond that, Streetsblog has reported on fake license plates, abuse of parking placards, out-of-state registrations, and obscured license plates. Enforcement surely would raise revenue.

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