Trump Was Already Screwing New York Taxpayers 36 Years Ago

In 1982, the indomitable Wayne Barrett reported on ‘Mr. Gimme, the tax break whiz kid’


It was just a half-page article, up front, in the NYC section. And yet, as usual, Wayne Barrett packed plenty of damning facts into his sharp-elbowed reporting on a rising young mogul: “Next time you’re stuck in the Grand Central IRT stairwell, trying to make it down the most consistently jammed steps in the city, think of Donald Trump, the 35-year-old real estate magnate who tells reporters off the record he’s worth about a quarter of a billion dollars.” (That’s the 4/5/6 line for those who are not subway nostalgists.)

Barrett spells out the corporate welfare Trump is getting for his building projects around town — “his $168 million, 42-year tax break at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (dubbed the biggest tax give-away in state history)” — and how “Mr. Gimme” is also consistently reneging on his promises of civic improvements in return. We also get mention of Trump’s savage consigliere, Roy Cohn, who helps facilitate the favoritism shown to the future POTUS by crooked politicians and corrupt judges. Thirty-six years later, Barrett’s reporting sounds as current as tomorrow’s breaking news: “ ‘Mr. Trump has been joined here,’ concluded the MTA brief, ‘on the totally sufficient ground that he is the principal wrongdoer. He is independently liable to plaintiffs for the tort of misleading plaintiffs into relying on his promise when he did not intend to keep it.’ ”

(As an added bonus, in an article by the indispensable Jack Newfield, we get a reminder of just how vindictive Mayor Ed “How’m I doing?” Koch could be back in the day. Plus a great Philip Burke illustration.)