"Zoning benefits are not cash items," wrote Supreme Court judge Edward Lehner in his 1989 ruling. The deal was later scuttled, and a smaller project, the new Time Warner Center, eventually built on the site.
"You're going to be sued," said Congressman Anthony Weiner, another mayoral wannabe, wagging his finger at the board members at the hearing. "You took nine days to make a decision that could last 99 years."
Despite the roller-coaster effect unleashed by Cablevision's bid in early February, most stadium critics said they weren't surprised by the vote.
"A month ago we had a bad feeling that the fix was in," said Jeremy Soffin of the Regional Plan Association, which published its own proposal for development on the rail yards last year. "The bidding process was so heavily slanted in favor of the Jets that it was really over before it began."
The Jets' bid carried not only the backing of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, but also a pledge of $600 million in public funding to build a platform and a retractable roof atop the stadium. Mayoral aides also told the board in no uncertain terms that if the stadium plan was not approved, the city's commitment to spend $2 billion to extend the No. 7 train to the far West Side would evaporate.
After Kalikow called on each of the political appointees around the table to voice the reasons for their votes, he came to three nonvoting members, all of whom, unlike their fully enfranchised counterparts, represent true constituencies. James Blair, representing Westchester commuters, denounced the Jets deal, saying it would shortchange transit users. Andrew Albert, chairman of the New York City Transit Riders Council, echoed the objections. "Straphangers will be subsidizing those in the skyboxes," said Ed Watt, secretary-treasurer of the Transport Workers Union.