The New York Times Misses Boat, Gets Wet
On Tuesday, November 15th, WestSideStadium.org held a joint press conference on the steps of City Hall with Assemblymen Steve Cymbrowitz and Jose Peralta to announce the introduction of legislation designed to repeal Madison Square Garden's annual robbery of the city coffers, MSG's real-eastate tax exemption, to the tune of $11.8 million dollars, and to announce our launching of StopCablevision.com.
.It was an event we had been calling for since May of 2004.
The New York Daily News broke the news of MSG's tax scam in May of 2004 and ran this Michael Goodwin column on MSG's tax scam on June 1.
The New York Times belatedly aknowledged the tax scam in an off-hand way on June 5.
Both as an organization and in personal contact we have urged our Assemblyman Gottfried to join us in calling for the revocation of MSG's uneeded tax status. This contact culminated in a meeting with Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and State Senator Thom Duane on September 23.
Our organization includes small landlords, owners of a total of about twenty buildings between them, all located in the area. They pay their taxes, and believe that Madison Square Garden should do the same.
Yet the New York Times ignores all this in a starnge article in today's paper entitled Jets Guided Anti-Cablevision Bill, Documents Show
They didn't bother calling us, even though we were one of only four speakers at the event. If they'd done that, of course, some facts might have gotten in the way of their story.
First of all, what is one to make of this following bizarre unattributed quote and paragraph: "Of course we try to enlist outside support," said an executive on one side of the fight, "because the alternative is to stand alone and be demonized." Like several others interviewed for this story, the executive spoke only on condition that he not be identified, saying he did not want to draw attention to his organization's role in the dispute, which has become increasingly bitter in recent weeks.
Huh? Can't you at least clue us in as to which side of the "fight" this "executive" is standing on? As far as we know, this could be an executive from Avon, worried about the effect the stadium might have on lipstick sales.
Were the Jets in the background here? Of course they were. But it is our fight. Assemblymen Steve Cymbrowitz and Jose Peralta are to be commended for having the guts to stand up against the rich and powerful interests. Both gentlemen expressed a keen interest in taking this fight beyond just Cablevision, in order to take on any and all corporate real-estate tax cheats. It is not just about MSG, as we made clear at the press conference, a fact which the Times might have picked up on if they had actually attended the event. No, it is about our elected representatives combing the tax roles to weed out these undeserving tax breaks given to billion dollar corporations. Assemblyman Gottfried himself tells me there are "hundreds such cases." That's a billion dollars, folks, if you do the math.
Contrast New York Association for Better Choices (NYABC) and WestSideStadium.org Cablevision has donated many millions of dollars to prop up their "grass roots" organization, NYABC. That buys them spokesmen like Clay Whit, who is well-versed at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. (As an example of Mr. Whit's verbal talent, he is quoted here in the following passage "But that is far different from dispatching elected representatives to do your bidding and attack your opponents to try to deflect attention from the $600 million in taxpayer subsidies the Jets want to build their football stadium," he said, referring to the Jets' role in the effort to repeal Cablevision's tax exemption. He skillfully doesn't mention NYABC's dancing politico puppets, Thom Duane, Christine Quinn and Dick Gottfried.)
The New York Jets have donated under $20,000 to our organization. Most of the cost of this enterprise have been borne by us, the members of WestSideStadium.org We sell T-Shirts (they make great gifts!) and when that isn't enough, we dig into our own pockets.
Why do we do it? Because we believe that this stadium is in the best interests of the city of New York, our home. And we believe the time for corporate welfare is over in the city of New York.
It is time for Cablevision, and any other large corporation owning land and holding an undeserving tax break, to pay their taxes.
©Copyright WestSideStadium.org, 2004