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At a hearing last week, the Yankees demanded $400 million more in tax−exempt bond financing. Randy Levine clashed with Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who is opposed to giving the team additional support.
Said Brodsky: “This is bizarre. We don’t have enough money for our schools or the subways, yet they want to give the Yankees money for a steakhouse and granite ramps?”
He is joined by City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who also believes the city and state have been more than generous to the Yankees. Thompson originally supported the tax−exempt financing for the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, Shea Stadium’s replacement.
Thompson said he will vote for the Mets’ financing because they have stuck to their original plans. He said the new Yankee Stadium funding “has changed dramatically. It’s costing taxpayers ... double what was originally projected.”
Shame on Levine, a Yankee fan and former Giuliani administration official, for pretending that what is good for the Yankees is good for the city. Although his representing the Yankees before city and state panels may not violate city conflict of interest laws, it is still unsavory. The laws were set up to keep people from parlaying high−level positions in city government into positions with corporations doing business with the city.
The Steinbrenners have been spending money to buy the world’s best players. Most Major League Baseball teams can only look on in awe. And many Bronx residents will be lucky if they can afford to attend a baseball game this year. Bronx residents have even given up parkland for the stadium, which the city owns.
Levine worked for the city in better times, but should understand that the city and state are in a financial crisis. Funding is being cut for everything, including high school sports, Little Leagues, zoos and performing arts. The new Yankee Stadium is a luxury. The city has done enough. If the Yankees cannot build their stadium with the support they have received, they should scale back.
Like Thompson, we did not oppose the city’s early investment in the two stadiums, but enough is enough. The city should just say “no more” to Levine and the Steinbrenners.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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