07 June 2005

Shelly Silver for President! (BR)

Not really, but every New Yorker owes the City Council speaker a big fat Thank You.

Sheldon Silver used his veto power to sink any chances of a new Jetsplex/Olympic stadium to be built on the West Side of the island of Manhattan. Whatever his motivations are, and there's no reason to assume they were pure, Mr. Silver has saved the city years of hassles, countless traffic jams...oh, and $600 million in tax revenue. Also, big ups to New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer). After surprising me to death by leading an override of George Pataki's heinous veto of the minimum wage hike, Senator Bruno also voted against the stadium.

Mayor Bloomberg is furious -- his aides actually used the word in describing his mood following the vote -- mainly because a chunk of his legacy project is tarnished (now he'll forever be the Mayor who wouldn't let me have a fucking smoke with my beer) and he looks like an ineffective executive.

It'd be one thing if New York didn't have a sports team. Sports are a vital aspect of regional culture. But we have three. Four, if another game of pro hockey is ever played in the United States again. Every sports arena project built in the last three decades or so has ended up costing the municipality jobs and tax dollars. Ticket prices skyrocket to make up for the building expenditures, so low- and middle-class fans have little hope of catching more than one game a year, forget about food or concessions.

The West Side project was particularly ill-advised because of its location. The West Side highway is already one of the few major thoroughfares which is more often congested than not. Imagine a Sunday afternoon in the fall. Imagine the secondary traffic buildup in Jersey and Connecticut. Madison Square Garden is the only huge event complex in Manhattan for a reason: the city crawls when something big rolls into town. Think of a September afternoon not far off, with the Yankees in a pennant race (I know it seems crazy right now) and the Jets playing a home game. Madness.

And after Bloomberg stacked with sympathizers and comrades the advisory committee which gave initial approval to the West Side Stadium (14-0, I might add) over a more lucrative offer for the land by Cablevision/MSG, which also would have built several public facilities and new housing, it's nice to see the Boy Mayor knocked down a peg.

So excuse me if I gloat a bit in the faces of Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki and the rest of grandstanding statist stadium hawks with egg all over their faces on this beautiful Tuesday evening. Boo-yah, I say.