The First Cut is the Deepest

According to the NY Times story the mayor is looking to cut libraries and after school programs because of a budget shortfall:

“With his plan to sell 2,000 new yellow-taxi medallions still in doubt, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has proposed slashing money for libraries and after-school programs and increasing fees on school lunches and parking meters to compensate for more than $600 million in lost medallion revenue.”

So, let’s get this straight. The city is cutting libraries but is still looking to pony up millions for the online grocer FreshDirect? Does this make any sense? Oh, and by the way, the city has proposed to give away $200 million of property to Related and Sterling Equities over at Willets Point. We’re wondering how many libraries that could fund, and for how long?

These kinds of corporate giveaways need to be stopped-but especially while the city is in a fiscal crunch that necessitates retrenchment. The rationale for this-economic development and job retention and growth doesn’t pass the smell test. Before we hand a windfall to some rich developers and an online grocer we should be asking the following questions:

  1. Does the subsidy make economic sense?
  2. Does the subsidy make economic sense considering the fiscal health of the city?
  3. How were these decisions made and was a proper due diligence conducted beforehand?

In the case of FreshDirect it’s hard to see the rationale for this kind of speculative generosity. In the Willets Point situation, Deputy Mayor Lieber promised that the city would be paid for all the land it bought from Willets Point businesses. Giving it away was never part of the plan and doing so when the city’s budget is out of whack is egregious. Both giveaways should be stopped.


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