|By A.D. Freudenheim||
5 June 2005
Anyone following the sordid tale of New York City Mayor Michael Bloombergs sordid West Side Stadium plan has plenty of opportunities to find themselves confused. For good reason: the whole thing does not make a lot of sense, and the motivations are difficult to disentangle. Theres the Bloomberg administrations desire to bring the Olympics to New York, represented by the NYC2012 campaign, and for which the West Side stadium would be one new (and arguably necessary) component. Theres the Bloomberg administrations weakly stated goal to redevelop this large, mostly industrial area of the City; but redevelop how is left a bit ambiguous, since the stadium plans do seem to include much in the way of new services for City residents. (The planned extension of the subway to cover service to the proposed stadium is a necessary step to make the stadium more useful and not a reason, in and of itself, to build the stadium.)
And one cannot forget the person who stands to benefit more than anyone from this development: Woody Johnson, owner of the football team that would make its new home in the stadium. In theory, it makes perfect sense to bring the Citys team back to City, from its home in New Jersey; but since the team is privately owned, shouldnt the owners pay for their new stadium? Not just pay for construction, but pay fair market value for the (City-owned) land on which they want to build it? And have to compete for that land in an open marketplace that is at least representative of the different interests and perspectives involved?
For Mayor Bloomberg, the answer seems to be no. Even though the value of a new stadium is debatable, whether for the Jets or the Olympics, and even though the value to the City of the Olympics is itself debatable, not much debate about these issues seems to be taking place. Most of the outrage has focused on the money involved and that may be the one event in this whole mess that does make sense, since it is an outrage that the privately-held New York Jets will be receiving $600 million in taxpayer support for their otherwise-private stadium program. Meanwhile, as the New York Press Matt Taibbi wrote in one of the best columns on this subject, no one makes a $600 million investment without becoming a partner in something. No one except a billionaire mayor, with the support of a millionaire governor, apparently.
That said, for anyone who wants to get in on the act, Sheldon Silver, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, has an opportunity to stop the plan by vetoing it at the next meeting of the Public Authorities Control Board. Speaker Silver has already indicated some concerns about the stadium not necessarily for the right reasons, since his objections seem premised on the stadiums impact on Lower Manhattan redevlopment. Still, a veto vote is a veto vote, and whatever Silvers motivations the stadium should be stopped. You can e-mail the Speaker to express your displeasure with the West Side Stadium plan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speak now, or forever hold your nose at City politics.
The news from Iraq over the last few months has mostly obsessed about the insurgency, and with good reason: the terrorists / insurgents are disrupting life for ordinary Iraqis, their American occupiers, and making it that much harder to reestablish Iraqi civilian governmental structures and operations. (And without those, how will we Americans have adequate access to Iraqi oil while guaranteeing ourselves a new market for American consumer goods and Hollywood products?) In particular, though, attention (in the news media, and in statements by American political leaders) has focused on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged terrorist mastermind of attacks in Iraq.
The focus on al-Zarqawi resembles the national obsession with Osama after the attacks in 2001, and looks a lot like the Israelis stupid program of targeted assassination (as if the fact that these extra-judicial killings were targeted somehow made them more palatable). There, every execution of a Hamas leader simply helped recruiting efforts for new Hamas fighters, and the leaders were ultimately replaced, quickly, while new lessons were learned by Hamas about how to avoid the Israelis. Four and half years later, Osama bin Laden is still at large and Zarqawi has been running around seemingly with impunity, and Hamas has made a strong showing in local Palestinian elections. Maybe we should worry less about these high-profile Wanted poster types, and not work so hard to burnish their reputations in print?
| From the News & Columns section of the New York Press, 3 May 2005, by Matt Taibbi; Taibbis arguments are echoed in a piece from yesterdays New York Times by Dave Anderson, Proposed Stadium on Far West Side Wrong for the Taxpayers and the Fans.||
Copyright 2005, by A.D. Freudenheim.
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