do not know what rabbits are in the Mayor’s hat or what, if any new
taxes he proposed, or what last-minute agreements may be worked out
between the parties.
last minute proposal that could prove costly and damaging in the long
run is the proposed sale of the City’s airports to the Port Authority
in exchange for the site of the former World Trade Center. The
carrot is $690 million in back rent which the Authority already owes the
City and is now kind enough to offer to pay if it can take control of
the airports forever. It is possible that someone will seize on this
offer as a way of avoiding or reducing layoffs.
could be more foolish and shortsighted.
you are unable to pay your employees because you have over a
quarter-million of them, you do not sell one of your most valuable
assets to help stave off the inevitable reckoning by one year.
Michael Bloomberg would never have done this in his business; if he did
he would not have been the success that he is. You do not sell
invaluable, irreplaceable capital assets in order to avoid reducing a
if the deal is made, the City will not have full site control downtown.
The footprint of the twin towers is considered sacred ground. And
don’t forget that the site has already been leased by the Port
Authority – for 99 years – to Larry Silverstein, who has no
intention of walking away from it. Then there are the insurance
companies, in litigation over the payout which must be spent to
reconstruct the destroyed buildings. Factor in the substantial current
vacancy rate in downtown office space, without vast new construction in
addition to 7 WTC, which Mr. Silverstein already has in design.
And consider the unmentionable: Would you spend eight hours a day on a
high floor of the building which symbolizes world capitalism and
has been attacked twice by Islamic terrorists?
income which the City could gain from the airports – if properly
operated – is enormous. There have been numerous complaints about the
Port Authority’s operations, widespread thefts at JFK Airport, lack of
security with regard to incoming narcotics, etc.
am unable to evaluate these allegations, but in principle a change of
management is often the remedy when one agency has become too fat, rigid
or lazy to do the job.
concern is that this proposal will be offered as a last minute budget
saving solution, and whipped through before there is a chance to examine
it on the merits.
skepticism about this transaction should not be interpreted as
dissatisfaction with Mayor Bloomberg.
idea is considered the brainchild of Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, who
is widely known to have a healthy obsession with the 2012 Olympics.
Before he was appointed as the $1 a year Deputy Mayor for Economic
Development, he chaired the committee to bring the Olympics to New York
City, where he did an excellent job, along with Executive Director Jay
Kriegel. We do not know yet how the land swap will impact the
entire west side of Manhattan, but it has been said that there is a
connection between the Port Authority deal and the search for public
funds to build a new stadium on the West Side.
believe Mayor Bloomberg is doing a good job. He was right on the
ban on smoking, and the property tax increase, two issues which have
lowered his poll ratings substantially. He has not been afraid to
take unpopular positions... in fact he seems to relish them. He has
appointed honest and competent commissioners and given them authority in
their agencies. He is devoted to the City, and tries to advance its
that does not mean that he is always right or that I agree with him on
every issue. Executives are often as good as the advice they get, and
the Mayor is still new to politics. He paid a lot of money (by our
standards, not his) to get elected (which was important to him, and
probably a benefit for us). Now he wants to play the Mayor’s
hand by himself. We hope he plays it successfully, because he represents
our better nature (although that may not be exactly what we need right
now) and our best hope for a peaceful and solvent city.
Henry Stern was NYC Parks Commissioner for fifteen years and a
Councilmember for nine. He is founder and director of NYCivic, a good
government group. He can be reached at: starquest.nycivic.org.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com