Community jeers Yanks’ “community benefits” offer

When the New York city council abruptly canceled a public hearing on the $1.2 billion Yankees stadium project earlier this month, some observers – okay, me – wondered if this presaged an October Surprise before the council vote. Conspiracy theorists, take note: Yesterday the Yankees (or someone) leaked to the press details of a “community benefits” plan wherein the team would provide $28 million over 40 years (present value: $10.5 million) for a community “trust fund,” plus $100,000 a year for parks maintenance and another $100,000 for “equipment and promotional merchandise” for schools and youth groups (present value: $3 million), in exchange for approval of its plan to build a new stadium on public parkland with the aid of about $420 million in public subsidies.

Critics of the plan were notably not won over by this new promise of Yankeebucks – the Bronx group Save Our Parks is rallying in opposition at City Hall as I type this – noting that the trust fund would be administered by the same Bronx officials who have backed the plan in the first place. “It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse,” city councilmember Helen Diane Foster told the New York Times, while community board member Lukas Herbert called it a “slush fund” for the Bronx political machine. Herbert also noted that his community board, which represents the stadium site, had never been consulted about this new agreement – which, to say the least, goes against the whole point of community benefits agreements.

LATE NOTE: Metro NY reports:

[Bronx Borough President Adolfo] Carrion seemed especially proud of a community benefits program that would give out $900,000 annually over the team’s 40-year lease. “If you look at the investment in the community every year over 40 years, you’re talking about in excess of $50 million.”

Anyone who can recreate Carrion’s math in multiplying $900,000 by 40 and getting “in excess of $50 million,” please contact the Nobel Prize committee immediately.

17 comments on “Community jeers Yanks’ “community benefits” offer

  1. The Yankees organization is offering chump change incentives as a carrot to the Bronx citizenry. Compared to the expenditure of taxpayer funds involved, these inducements are laughably insignificant and paltry. The free tickets come out to 185 per home game. That and $100,000 in free baseball equipment are supposed to make up for the loss of two parks?

    I’m still fascinated at the shrewd manner in which the Mets and Yankees exploited the NYC2012 debacle to say “me, too” before the Jets deal collapsed. In NYC, anything is possible if you have political sway and economic resources.

  2. What do you mean by “community”? Oh, yeah. A favorite tactic of the far left is to change the semantics of the debate to fit their worldview. Therefore, 100 rabblerousers who would scream over anything to get press attention is a “community” while those living in the same area who express an opposite opinion are “interlopers, outsiders or those who are in the pay of some monied people.”

    I hope you all lose!

  3. You forgot the second part of that strategy, which is to claim that there has been “no public debate” about any project that they don’t like.

    Does anyone really think that the Bronx delegation has legitimate concerns about this project that are not being addressed? Of course not, this is a shakedown, plain and simple. The Yankees don’t “owe” the “community” anything…the BX delegation is simply extorting them to the best of their abilities.

  4. Of course. They have to do what they have to do to get to where they are now. Politicians are going to do what they know best. Speaking of “schemes”, no one says a peep about when politicians squeeze the businesses, big and small, and property owners over trivial things. But Mr. Economist doesn’t care about that.

    Maybe I should declare myself poor and underage to take advantage of the free tickets they’re going to give out. ;)

  5. Having been to every public hearing held in the Bronx on this issue, I can say that the clear majority of public comments from neighborhood residents have been negative. I suppose it’s possible that there’s some silent majority that’s in favor of the plan, but if so they’re taking the “silent” part of their name very seriously.

    As for the “shakedown,” the community fund package was negotiated between the Yankees and the borough president, who’s been in favor of the project all along. The Yankees are trying to buy off the opposition of their own free will here – it’s not like any of the opponents ever asked for a community fund.

    Incidentally, SoBX, what’s your role in all this? You’ve obviously been following the issue closely and have strong opinions on it, but since you use a fake AOL address on your posts it’s hard to tell (literally) where you’re coming from.

  6. Why single out Carrion? Amazingly, the role Councilwoman Baez is playing in all of this is ignored. ;)

  7. I don’t have any role in this – just a casual observer. I do have strong opinions, most of which have to do with honesty and integrity, qualities that seem to be absent from all sides of this debate.

  8. Why do I feel like Mad Bomber works for one of the Arroyos? Or maybe Carrion? Probably Carrion.

    Thanks Neil, for your comment at 5:30. A smart, informed (ahem, Mad Bomber) post.

  9. So, if you care so much about “honesty” and “integrity”, why do you hide behind a secret email address, SoBX?

  10. How predictable. When they can’t persuade anybody with their usual drivel, get personal.

    It’s desperation time at FarLeftVille!

  11. Interesting, not one cogent arguement from SoBX or Mad Bomber here that makes the case for this plan. No rhetorical arguments about why the deal is good. All they offer are anonymous attacks on who IS the community, yet they can not point to any community group that is supporting this deal. Mad Bomber’s remark about getting personal is remarkably ironic.

  12. Another wrong premise. Any two nutcases can get together and form a “community group”. And any part can be a part of 10,000,000+ “community groups” with, who knows how many, different names. And, boy, are they creative with the names or what? ;0)

    And all the opposition can offer is more class warfare, spin and transference.

  13. Class warfare’s what it’s called if you
    Point out the riches that accrue
    To people in the nicest part of town.
    But it’s okay to fulminate
    About the welfare queens, that’s great
    Class warfare just goes up, you see, not down
    –Calvin Trillin

  14. Peel the onion more than a few times and you’ll soon unmask the “‘Sports’ Department” of The Nation magazine. ;0)

  15. Just stumbled upon this, and looking over the posts, I think Neil definately presents a more cogent argument than MadBomber or SoBX. Really, if you object to Neil’s arguments, put forth a counter-argument of your own. Simply dismissing his opinions as “far left” doesn’t add much to the discussion (and I say this because I like to hear all sides).