Assembly issues Yankee Stadium subpoenas

A Yankee-fueled subversion tactic
Open Thread: A virtual tour of the New Stadium

While many consider the Yankee Stadium financing issue to be rather jejune, New York State Assembly representative Richard Brodsky is clearing getting down to business. Yesterday, Brodsky’s committee on corporations, authorities and commissions announced plans for a Wednesday hearing on the stadium funding issue. Today, they broke out their subpoena power, compelling Yankees President Randy Levine to appear tomorrow.

According to the North Country Gazette, the hearing will “inquire into circumstances surrounding the provision of close to $2 billion in taxpayer money for construction of the new Yankee Stadium with particular focus on the city’s attempt to add over $400 million in such assistance.” In particular, Brodsky and Committee Chair James Brennan are going to examine the Yanks’ latest request for a final round of tax-exempt bonds.

“The city’s attempt to ram through this complicated project without disclosure of its implications is not acceptable as the Legislature considers what changes in State law it ought to be making,” said Brodsky. “The hearing will provide info necessary for the Legislative process.”

To get the most out of their testimony, the committee is subpoenaing Levine and NYC Industrial Development Agency Chairman Seth Pinsky. While Brodsky is using the Assembly power to dig into the paperwork behind the bond issue, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized this move as “politcal theater.”

“I guess it makes for good political theater because it’s the Yankees, but when it comes to valuable taxpayer dollars, decisions should be made on return, not rhetoric,” Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent said to the AP. “The deal leverages a federal program and will result in New York City getting back more tax revenue than it will cost and the South Bronx getting thousands of new jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment.”

I’m not too surprised that the Assembly is compelling Levein’s attendance. Since the start of 2009, Levine has appeared on CNBC to defend the stadium and penned a guest column for the Daily News on the same topic. He continues to promote numbers with which many independent analysts have taken issue, and Brodsky, for better or worse, wants to get to the bottom of this issue.

A Yankee-fueled subversion tactic
Open Thread: A virtual tour of the New Stadium
  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I’m not past the first sentence… But this is already the best RAB post ever.

  • Chris P.

    Levine was just on the radio and said that Brodsky himself approved two bills for the stadium. Is this true?

    • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      It would make sense-it would explain why Brodsky is so concerned about where the money is going.

    • Ben K.

      Probably. I’d have to dig into the voting records for the Assembly. But it depends what the bills said really.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        As witnessed by the Obama-McCain race, the “Legislator A voted against this issue” concept is poor. Many legislators across the country often vote for things they hate and against things they love, as bills are often many omnibus bills in one.

        Both Obama and McCain voted both for and against funding of the troops in different versions of different bills addressing by and large the same issues.

        I don’t recall the bills in question, but I can easily guess as to why Brodsky may have voted for the stadium project while being against it. Also, the Stadium project looked much less pernicious at the outset, probably because it was intentionally doctored to be so.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Best. Post. Ever.

  • Ed

    He continues to promote numbers with which many independent analysts have taken issue

    Analysts are just like newspaper reporters. If you say something rational, you don’t get noticed. If you can come up with a justification for something crazy, people will listen.

    Remember how much attention that guy who said “Milwakee’s $100m/5 year offer is worth more than the Yankees $140m/6 year offer got?” Same kinda thing…

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      So you have not investigated and have no interest in investigating whether Levine’s numbers or those of independent analysts are accurate, but you side with Levine because you think the independent analysts want to get “noticed?”

      That’s stupid.

      • Ed

        There’s flaws in the logic of most of the stadium financing articles Ben links to. Most of the time I point out the glaring ones. I’ve also said that the Yankees haven’t been perfect here.

    • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      You know, I *barely* passed math class and I’m still not that slow…

      And we pay these analysts how much?

    • Ben K.

      I hear what you’re saying, Ed, but the numbers are vastly different. For Sabathia’s contract, we could understand what the differences were (i.e. cost of living, taxation). When you’re talking about creating 12 new permanent jobs as nearly everyone except Randy Levine is saying vs. Levine’s 1000 jobs created, there’s a bit of a problem there.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Your comment/response is much more diplomatic than mine. Long day for me. My bad.

      • Ed

        In the article you linked to, Levine said this:

        “Maintained a commitment to create over 1,000 new jobs after completion.”

        You brought up 12 permanent jobs.

        I would imagine the distinction here is your number counts only full time jobs while Levine’s counts part time jobs. Even so, the 12 number sounds way too low to make sense. I have no idea how realistic the 1,000 number is, but a little bit of common sense says there has to be far more than 12 new jobs.

        Offhand, the new stadium will have a steakhouse and a Hard Rock Cafe. I don’t know how many employees restaurants tend to have, or the full time / part time breakdown. I think at least the Hard Rock is going to be open year round, so I would expect more permanent jobs from that one. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine more than 12 jobs between the two restaurants.

        Next, the Yankees created their own food service business to service the stadium. They partnered with the Cowboys to create a rather large entity here. Maybe Levine is counting jobs created by the Cowboys end of the deal in part of his estimate, as while not strictly Yankees related, the business wouldn’t have existed without the new stadium. Maybe he’s counting the new food service workers at the stadium. While the old stadium had workers, a lot of them would’ve been employees of the old food service company, giving him a justification (that may be right or wrong) to include them in his count.

        I’m not in any way saying Levine is perfect here, and in past posts I’ve mentioned problems with the stadium (the rushed approval and the parkland issues are the big ones). My problem here is all the stories that get posted that get treated as truth when the numbers tossed around in them can’t possibly be right.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I would imagine the distinction here is your number counts only full time jobs while Levine’s counts part time jobs. Even so, the 12 number sounds way too low to make sense. I have no idea how realistic the 1,000 number is, but a little bit of common sense says there has to be far more than 12 new jobs.

          Having heard and read many things from Levine (and his camp) and Brodsky (and his camp), I can assure you it’s not a discrepancy as innocuous as counting or not counting part time jobs.

          It’s flat out misleading of the public (and possibly lying) by Levine. He’s portrayed the 1000 jobs, which are contractor and builder jobs (hence, full-time TEMPORARY, as they’ll disappear when the Stadium construction is done) as full-time PERMANENT jobs. I listened to that interview on Michael Kay tonight and he said as much twice. He portrayed the creation of thousands of new jobs as being hugely beneficial to the South Bronx neighborhood, even though all of those jobs will be gone by April and most of those jobs weren’t even given to Bronx residents.

          Moreover, the stadium project didn’t even “create” 1000 new full-time temporary jobs, as many if not all of those contractors were on other construction projects before and will be on new ones afterwards. All it did was reallocate/redistribute pre-existing jobs. I’d be surprised if more than 20% of those workers were out of work with not a single pipe to fit or I-beam to weld before the Stadium began, meaning even claiming 1000 temporary construction “jobs” is disingenuous.

          But the official statements (not what was made public, but the internal documents between the Yankees and the IDA) always said 12 brand new, freshly created from scratch full-time, permanent jobs.

          • Ed

            I don’t know what you’re hearing, but at least in the article by Levine that Ben linked, he said this about the construction workers:

            “Employed 6,000+ union construction workers on the stadium site during a period of reduced economic activity. Job training programs have brought new workers into the industry, with all goals to employ minority, women and local employees met.”

            Here’s some details from the bond application. Check page 42 of the PDF for details.

            There are 152 workers in the front office and stadium engineering staff. That number is expected to go up by 22 to 174.

            Night Security / maintenance / ticket collecters / ticket sellers / scoreboard operators – 522 in the old stadium, 775 in the new.

            Concessions / Other security – 1609 in the old stadium, 1709 in the new.

            Total workers in the old stadium – 2,378. Total in the new stadium – 3,753. Total new jobs – 1,375.

            Oh, and some details on the construction jobs from the project description:

            “As a result of the project, it is projected that over 6,000 construction employees will have been, and 2,534 full-time equivalent employees will be, employed at the project site. This on-going employment figure represents an increase of 837 full-time equivalent employees over those in the existing stadium.”

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              I’ll give you more when I read tomorrow’s hearing.

              But basically, I don’t trust those figures much. I trust Levine as far as I can throw him.

              (That’s not far).

  • tony

    The yankees are not receiving a grant for 400 mil – it is a bond that will be paid back with interest.

    By saying the yankees received 400mil in tax payer money – it infers they are receiving a 400 mil handout or grant. They are not – they will pay back the money.


    • Ed

      Who’s going to buy your newspaper if your headline is “Yankees take out a loan” ?

      • tony


  • MJ

    Jejeune? A shot fired across the bow of

    • Ben K.

      Whenever I post on the stadium news, I get comments from people complaining about how boring and uninteresting the news is. I’m simply acknowledging them.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Oh please, it was a good-natured little quip which seems aimed at people who read and comment on these posts re the Stadium AND also acknowledges the “jejune” thing. Own it, it was funny.

      • DP

        The real question is: when does it (the news, not you posting it) end? Spring Training? Opening Day? Never?

        • Ben K.

          Probably soon. I can’t imagine Brodsky will have much to say any longer, and once the stadium is completed and paid for, the only remaining problem will be replacing the parkland in the Bronx.

          • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

            Famous last words.

            I live in the Bronx right now-I can see the parkland becoming a big issue.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Again, in case anyone didn’t review the official plans agreed to by the team, city, and Parks department, about 30-40 percent of the “replaced” parkland is a synthetic FieldTurf “park” containing a football/soccer field… THAT SITS ON TOP OF ONE OF THE NEW PARKING GARAGES. THREE STORIES ABOVE STREET LEVEL.

              That’s where the replacement “parkland” is going to be.

  • Lanny

    Brodsky was a total joke. Talk about someone grandstanding.

  • UWS

    “Jejune” is definitely my favorite word for the week.

  • drew

    Well I cant wait to see it!

  • Januz

    I have a perfect job for Brodsky if he quits politics……….. He can FIRST TRY and become an detective. He thinks he is a cross between Don Quixote and Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, hounding the Yankees, and believing he will throw everyone from the Steinbrenner’s down in jail, and will shut down the new stadium. Meanwhile, he wastes tax dollars and time better spent on REAL issues (Such as the one party rule in Albany, and the consequences on tax and spend policy), when the Stadium train has left the station.
    What he should do however, is play Inspector Clousseau’s DUMBER brother in the next Pink Panther movie. He could not locate a criminal in RIKERS., let alone successful prosecute one.
    The reality of the matter is stadium funding is coming to an end, and it deals with economic funding, NOT performances by clowns like Brodsky. Note the following:

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Meanwhile, he wastes tax dollars and time better spent on REAL issues (Such as the one party rule in Albany, and the consequences on tax and spend policy), when the Stadium train has left the station.

      Again with the “we have better things to be doing” argument? None of what you said is remotely close to an accurate characterization of what he’s doing.

      Legislative bodies represent the people. Legislators are charged with sitting on committees which investigate the actions of the agencies charged with marshalling and spending the citizen’s tax dollars. Nothing that Brodsky is doing is bad or wrong whatsoever. The Mayor’s Office and the IDA’s can and should be vigorously investigated for the faintest hint of wrongdoing or patronage. I can’t believe you really have a problem with this.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Moreover, the “one party rule” statement is ludicrous, since:

      A) This is a Democratic state legislature critically questioning the actions of a Democratic mayor, a Democratic city council, and a Democratic-appointed IDA

      B) One-party rule in Albany has currently existed in Albany for exactly 3 days now. The Yankee Stadium deal was hatched and passed in a divided government.

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