Today’s news:

Willets Point union labor deal only a diversion

The Willets Point proposal would not even get to first base if non-union wages were to be paid. One need not extol the city for guaranteeing union involvement because it was a given. It is Madison Avenue gibberish ("Willets Point project to be labor-friendly," TimesLedger, June 19, 2008).

The fact remains that this plan would destroy over 225 businesses, more than 1,300 employees and thousands of their dependents.

And for what? A useless convention center, even though a center exists in Manhattan and is slated to be enlarged at a taxpayer cost of $1.4 billion, at a time when there is a glut of convention space in this country; a 700-room hotel in an area besotted with hotels; and a public school that would be surrounded by a Major League Baseball stadium, large hotel and convention center under the flight path of LaGuardia Airport traffic. Such congestion is hardly a suitable place for learning.

Yes, as a sop there will be some affordable housing, but that is not a good enough reason to sacrifice hundreds of businesses and thousands of people. Yes, there will be infrastructure repairs at taxpayers' expense — something the city should have done long ago and could easily be done now to make current businesses remain.

When will the myopic politicians that run this city realize that small business owners and the little people must stop being sacrificed at the alter of fat cat real estate developers? The Willets Point proposal is a rip-off of the public on a grand scale.

Benjamin M. Haber


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