Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brodsky Blasts Yankees And The City

The Yankees are about to be eliminated from making the playoffs any day now, but that is not what has Westchester State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky so upset. What is at stake is the new Yankee Stadium and what it is costing New York City's taxpayers. Supposedly the Yankees threatened to leave the city if they didn't get hundreds of millions in tax breaks (where the hell they would go, I don't know). Then city officials "caved" to their demands and in return got a sweet luxury box. That wasn't enough for Steinbrenner's organization, so when they asked for an additional $250 million, people like Assemblyman Brodsky and Congressman Kucinich started to get involved.

From The NY Times:

New York City and the Yankees may have violated federal tax regulations and state laws in using $943 million in tax-exempt bonds to build the baseball team’s new stadium, according to a report issued on Tuesday by Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky.

Saying the taxpayers are footing the bill for the $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and are getting little in return other than higher ticket prices and the loss of parkland, Mr. Brodsky, a frequent critic of the deal, said that the report stems from a review of thousands of pages of previously unreleased documents.

Although city officials and the Yankees hotly disputed many of the findings, the report concluded that the city and the state invested as much as $850 million in cash and tax breaks in the new stadium, which sits across 161st Street from the team’s historic home in the South Bronx.

“This stadium is being built by the people of the city and the state of New York,” Mr. Brodsky said during a press conference at the north end of the new stadium, at 164th Street and Jerome Avenue. “In return, they’re getting almost nothing. This deal does not serve the public’s interest. It serves the Yankees’ interest.”

Of course the Yankees protested the lengthy and damning report, but that is to be expected (one excuse is that they employed people to build it, as if the stadium would have magically appeared by itself). The facts are that the team and those that helped them to acquire taxpayer funds with little to no benefit to the community.

Brodsky is taking his report to Washington in order to bolster Kucinich's mission to make it tougher for corporate entities to take such advantage of public dollars and eminent domain laws. Hopefully we'll see some reform on this issue soon. Though until we have a President that isn't a former baseball team owner who took advantage of these tax breaks himself, President Obama will have to be the one to sign the bill into law.