Billionaires' Boondoggle

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In the first Bob Herbert piece I've read all the way through in recent memory, the New York Times columnist lays into Mayor Michael Bloomberg's outrageous plan for a New York Jets stadium on Manhattan's West Side:

The rail yards on which the stadium would be built are owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the development rights have been valued by the M.T.A.'s own appraisers at $923 million. But the M.T.A. has agreed to sell the rights to this publicly owned property to Mr. Johnson and the Jets for a mere $250 million. That's a subsidy of nearly $700 million for the mayor's fabulously wealthy buddy.

When you add that subsidy to the $600 million in public funds that the mayor and the governor had pledged from the beginning to hand to [billionaire Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson IV], we're talking about a giveaway of $1.3 billion. The rascals used to do this sort of thing in back rooms, while worrying about headlines, indictments and handcuffs. Now they've figured out how to do it legally….

What we have here is a multibillionaire owner of a sports franchise that is so successful it is completely sold out for a decade. And he has the brass to come to the city and the State of New York with his hand out. It's like Donald Trump's asking the Partnership for the Homeless to help finance one of his luxury towers.

In Reason's May issue, Daniel McGraw finds grounds to hope that boondoggles like this one day will seem as quaint as Tammany Hall-style graft.

NEXT: I See London, France, Saddam's....

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  1. I like it. I’m hoping that the cities are using these subsidies to collapse into themselves. Then we can start over without the communists in charge of our major cities.

  2. TPG,

    We don’t have any commies running the show here in San Diego, only Birchers. And now two of them are on trial for taking bribes, and we can only hope that the rest of them will be on trial for malfeasance soon enough. Our city is currently being investigated by the SEC, FBI and US Attorney, for various corrupt dealings, and our mayor was forced to resign. In fact, the only one on the City Council with any sense of fiduciary responsibility is ultraliberal democrat. Go figure.

  3. JBK,

    That is amazing, though not unbelievable. I find that the communists are really entrenched in the northeast. The midwest and south still have a chance, but the south is regularly invaded, through migration, by the northeastern communists.

  4. And now two of them are on trial for taking bribes

    The only problem is that convictions don’t just void all the city business contracts they entered into nor undo all the laws they signed.

  5. San Diego’s government may have a bunch of Birchers, but the taxpayer funding of Qualcomm & Petco would bring a smile to faces of Marx, Lenin, Mao, George W Bush and others that believe that the government should own the means of production.

  6. Bloomberg’s no communist. A thief, a limo-liberal, and a nannystate midget, but certainly not a communist.

    I sure wish he would put the stadium and the olympics up for a vote. It would NEVER pass.

  7. …and others that believe that the government should own the means of production.

    But, the government doesn’t own the means of production. It has just used your money to buy them and given them to cronies.

    But that’s pretty much how it happens everywhere.

  8. I sure wish he would put the stadium and the olympics up for a vote. It would NEVER pass.

    Hear, hear!

    The Daily News has a poll:

    18% We have to build stadium for good of NYC, regardless of Olympics
    6% Now we really have to build stadium, because Olympics are vital to city
    76% Good riddance to both

  9. The only problem is that convictions don’t just void all the city business contracts they entered into nor undo all the laws they signed.
    Not yet, but the city attorney is actually trying to make this happen. He is claiming that many of the benefits granted to the municpal pension system (which is at the heart of the financial shenanigans) were unfunded and thus void by law. So it won’t allow us to drink on our city beaches, but at least it might help the city from defaulting and becoming an even worse laughingstock.

  10. The problem in SD is that *everyone* in the GOP there is a crook or a kook. Not just the office holders, but the newspaper (Union Tribune), civic booster associations (Taxpayers Association). … All brainwashed zombies dedicated to transferring public property and tax revenues into the hands of a few families.

  11. $1.3 billion? I could build almost 900 bus stops for $1.3 billion.

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