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July 8, 2008

Our "by-the-numbers" mayor and his not-so-free-market approach to Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

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So yesterday, in an article headlined Titans Seek New York Mayor in Bloomberg’s Mold, the New York Times reported that leading business executives, including Jerry Speyer (#1 on the Observer’s list of most powerful people in real estate), hope for a mayor who has the luxury of “financial independence, his lack of party affiliation and his corporate, by-the-numbers approach to management,” and, in the words of one interviewee, “not beholden to special interests.”

Amid a general shower of praise for Bloomberg, the Times allowed that his “administration is considered an ally to many corporations, especially developers.”

What the newspaper didn’t do is examine how a by-the-numbers approach to management might be contradicted by a look at Bloomberg’s treatment of developments like Atlantic Yards, where he’s broken promises, failed to scrutinze the development closely, and falsely claimed the free market was at work, even as sports teams benefit enormously from monopoly rules that enforce franchise scarcity and provoke cities and states to bid against each other by offering subsidies, an issue to be discussed in detail below.

Meanwhile, his administration is busy lobbying in Washington to ensure that a “loophole” (in the words of the chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service) remains to allow tax-exempt financing for the Yankees and Mets stadiums, both under construction, and the Atlantic Yards arena.

In other words, the Bloomberg who imposed the once-politically unpopular smoking ban and pushed for congestion pricing loses track of his principles when it’s time to construct monumental sports structures where, not coincidentally, there are ribbons to cut.

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Posted by lumi at July 8, 2008 4:07 AM