Personalities Clash at Yankees Bonds Hearing

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Yankees are asking the city to authorize another $370 million in tax-exempt bonds so the team can complete its stadium in time for opening day. A hearing yesterday on the subject got heated as officials from the Yankees and the Bloomberg administration verbally attacked Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. WNYC's Matthew Schuerman has more.

REPORTER: The hearing yielded little news, but it showed a new level of engagement on behalf of the Yankees.

LEVINE: It's quite remarkable to me, that a state representative from wealthy Westchester county is actively trying to insert himself into the Bronx to destroy jobs and stop the revitalization of the poorest congressional delegation in the nation.

REPORTER: Levine even accused Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of hypocrisy because he didn't go after the racing industry the way he's going after the Yankees, and even cited the amount of campaign contributions he received from racetrack operators.

The Bloomberg administration's representative, Seth Pinsky, meanwhile, tried to straighten out the record regarding a series of embarrassing e-mails that Brodsky released two months ago. They showed that the Bloomberg administration lobbied hard for a luxury suite that city employees could use. but Pinsky didn't get very far.

PINSKY: Notwithstanding the fun and games you have had with my e-mails and I know this is part of the game and...

BRODSKY: Let me stop you there. I am not going to permit the work of this committee as being fun and games.

PINSKY: I am not characterizing...

REPORTER: Pinsky ended up withdrawing his comment about fun and games.

At one point , Levine attacked Brodsky for underestimating the number of full-time permanent jobs that the new Yankee Stadium would create. It was not just 22, he said, because Brodsky didn't add in some jobs that were mentioned in a footnote in the team's application for more bonds.

LEVINE: On top of the 22 you should have added - if you had read the footnote...

BRODSKY: I accept the correction and I'll use the number 57 now?


REPORTER: In Brodsky's view, 57 new full time jobs - or even 1,400, counting part-time, seasonal workers - is not much of a return for the $4 billion in government subsidies that he contends are involved in the new ball park. The Independent Budget Office put forth a more conservative estimate, assuming the bonds get approved: the new stadium is costing the city $362 million. The Bloomberg administration says the new ball park will bring in about that much in additional sales and income taxes. The vote on the additional bonds comes before the Industrial Development Agency on tomorrow. For WNYC, I'm Matthew Schuerman.


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