Thursday’s Headlines: Corporate Welfare for Steven Roth Edition
We’ve been alluding to the Penn Station boondoggle for a while, but Reinvent Albany’s newest commissioned study — handed to the Times as an exclusive early on Wednesday morning — confirms some of the worst fears we’ve seen in the other media.
According to the study, the public-private partnership between the state and Vornado Realty Trust to develop high-rises to generate revenue for the new Penn Station will only cover about half the costs of the new terminal — while yielding Vornado tax breaks that could total $1.2 billion. (Vornado’s chief executive, Steven Roth, has given big time to Gov. Hochul’s campaign; Streetsblog readers will remember Roth as the Man Who Stopped the Fifth Avenue Busway with help of another recipient of his campaign largesse, Bill de Blasio.)
It’s galling that corporations get tax breaks even as they make billions, but the fact that this sweetheart deal will still leave taxpayers holding the bag is a bad look for the governor (and, frankly, our entire system, which seems to be built on billionaires secretly pulling the strings).
Of course, that’s just our lefty way of looking at it. Late in the day, we got an email from the New York Building Congress slamming back at the narrative that it’s a rich man’s world and we’re allowed to live in it as long as we don’t complain.
“This is a model of how public-private partnership can successfully deliver countless public realm benefits to commuters and nearby residents alike,” said the group’s president, Carlo Scissura. “Now is not the moment to squander a once-in-a-generation investment in 21st-century infrastructure, our economy, and in New Yorkers and the surrounding community.”
The Building Congress added, in short, that taxpayers and Reinvent Albany should take what they can get and stop whining because without Vornado, taxpayers would have to pay the full cost of the new Penn Station (which is how the public used to build public facilities).
Coverage in the Daily News, amNY, Gothamist and the Post didn’t really leave any bruises on the Reinvent Albany report. The City beat us to the punch on a broader explainer piece (ours will be out in later this week, alas).
In other news:
- A reckless or inattentive driver killed a woman on a scooter and injured her son in Brooklyn, yet has not been charged, the Daily News reported. The Post had a completely different take.
- Uber rides are most expensive in Manhattan, the Post reported. Streetsblog USA can explain why.
- Rep. Mondaire Jones, who moved to Brooklyn to run for the newly created Lower Manhattan-Brownstone Brooklyn seat, thinks the BQX is still a thing. (Gotham Gazette)
- Council members were really in the news yesterday:
- Manhattan Council Members Julie Menin and Christopher Marte are pushing three bills to rein in the fast-food-delivery companies and their “dark site” locations. (NY Post)
- Kudos to another Council member, Lincoln Restler, for getting his hands dirty and cleaning up a Brooklyn park that the city has abandoned. (Rose Uscianowski via Twitter)
- And Brooklyn Council Member Shahana Hanif tweeted a video of a really bad crash in her district — which must have been a vicious one, judging from the really big truck on its side:
Horrible crash near my home on Beverley Road & Ocean Parkway. Neighbors and I have been raising the alarm about this dangerous intersection for years! I’m praying no one is badly hurt. I’ll share updates but this terror needs to end. I’m calling on @NYC_DOT to show up for us. pic.twitter.com/jd5ihTZpJi
— Shahana Hanif ? (@ShahanaFromBK) July 13, 2022
- We missed Clayton Guse’s story the other day about the growing frustrations over the slow congestion pricing process, but there wasn’t much new there: The feds and state have not released key documents, the process is bureaucratic and frustrating, and no one is talking. But we’ve known that for a while now.
- Speaking of congestion pricing, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine really wants the MTA to get going on the details about the tolls, mainly to prevent a counter-attack from the likes of Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Nicole Malliotakis, who say they’ll use their
limitedpower to make sure federal money won’t go towards creating the tolls (hint: it’s not). (NY Post). Gothamist and amNY focused on the details of Levine’s recommendations.
- Speaking of “Jersey” Josh, our friend Charles Komanoff threw some righteous numbers at the Garden State pol:
NJ state leg dists 37 (Bergen Co.), 38 (Bergen & Passaic) & 39 (ditto) appear to make up most of Gottheimer’s CD5. @Tri_State's “cong pricing district level analysis” (see sample) puts the %'s of employed persons in those districts who drive a personal vehicle to a job in … 1/4 https://t.co/ndRetoR1qi pic.twitter.com/3RNeNxwapl
— Charles Komanoff (@Komanoff) July 13, 2022
- Finally, behold: A bike made out of recycled plastic. (Thomas Insights)