After getting smacked around by Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Friday (that’s gotta sting), city Economic Development Corporation president Seth Pinsky penned a Daily News op-ed yesterday to “set the record straight” on the Yankees stadium project. The Big Bronx Dig, asserted Pinsky, is a “home run” that offers “staggering” benefits to the public, including 6,000 new construction jobs, 1,000 permanent jobs, new parking garages and a Metro-North station, and $40 million in new tax revenue. “Nobody in his or her right mind,” wrote Pinsky, “would criticize these benefits.”
At the risk of institutionalization, then, let’s examine Pinsky’s claims one by one and see how they stack up:
“More than 6,000 mostly unionized construction jobs, with a quarter of the man-hours performed by Bronx residents.” The “Bronx resident” figure has been impossible to verify, given that the Yankees have refused to provide details of even which companies have gotten construction contracts, let alone who’s working for them.
And one construction source told the Daily News’ Juan Gonzalez that construction unions have been “checkerboarding” — shifting Bronx residents who had been working in another borough to the Yankees project – to inflate the local-worker numbers, noting: “That doesn’t add any new jobs for Bronx residents.”
“More than 1,000 new, mostly unionized permanent jobs. New and expanded park space.” Pinsky testified in July that only 140 of those jobs would be full-time – another 950 would consist of part-time hot dog vendors and Hard Rock Cafe guitar techs. As for the “expanded” park space, that all depends on who’s doing the counting.
“New parking garages that take cars off congested streets.” It’s a matter of much dispute whether new garages free up streets or merely add to the problem via the magic of “traffic generation”; the Tri-State Transportation Campaign notes that as “parking capacity is a key determinant of decisions to drive in a city with ample mass transit options,” the new garages could actually increase congestion in the surrounding Bronx communities by encouraging more fans to drive to games.
“A new Metro-North station.” New Yorkers are indeed gaining a commuter rail station near the new stadium, but Pinsky neglects to mention that we’re also paying the entire cost of building it: $39.6 million in city money, $51 million in state.
“Plus, $40 million in new tax revenue for the city, according to the analysis done when the project was approved.” Actually, the cost benefit analysis issued by the city Industrial Development Agency in March 2006 projected $54.7 million in net new revenue. But that was back in the Jaret Wright era, when the new public parkland the city is building to replace the ballfields obliterated for the new stadium was expected to cost just $84.1 million. As of the most recent figures this spring, the parks price tag had soared to $190 million — meaning that even by the IDA’s calculation, the project would now be a net loss to city taxpayers of about $50 million.
Add in the cost of that Metro-North station — counted as a “benefit” by Pinsky, but not appearing on the IDA balance sheet — and the city’s red ink is up to $90 million. And that’s even before counting about $180 million in tax breaks the city has granted to the Yankees project. (Pinsky has previously said he doesn’t consider tax breaks a cost, on the grounds that if the Yankees didn’t build anything, they wouldn’t have to pay taxes either.) We’ll leave it up to Voice readers to determine who’s exhibiting the classic warning signs.
photo by Shelley Panzarella (cc)