4/12/2006 01:39:00 PM
The following is an editorial from todays New York Daily News:
Squeeze play on the Mets
The Bonannos have Brooklyn, the Genoveses have the Bronx, the Gambinos have Queens, the City Council has all of New York City - and woe betide the person who needs a blessing from any of them to do business in the city.
Case in point: The Mets, the latest corporate citizen to fall prey to extralegal demands from local politicians, in this case the Council's Queens delegation. In exchange for voting yes on financing for the team's proposed $600 million new stadium, the gang has drawn up a list of requirements that Mayor Bloomberg likened to extortion.
The description was apt. The price for favorable action was put at $1 million a year for Little League programs; distribution of 20,000 tickets a year to youth groups, senior centers and the like; construction of a recreation center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and commitments to meet quotas in hiring and construction contracts.
All would be very nice for the Mets, or anyone else, to provide to Queens residents, should the donor want to do so voluntarily or as required by law. Neither is the case here. The team negotiated a deal with the Bloomberg administration that makes economic sense for both the Mets and taxpayers, playing by the rules throughout.
Now, though, the Queens Council crew is adding a fourth out to the inning and reviling the Mets as the Boys of Bummer. "They have not - double underscore, exclamation point - they have not done enough for my community," thunders Councilman Hiram Monserrate. "The Mets haven't been good neighbors," declares Councilman Tony Avella. Only Councilman Peter Vallone had the grace to be embarrassed by his colleagues' piggishness. "Why not ask them to pencil me in at shortstop while we're at it?" he wrote in an internal e-mail.
Monserrate & Co. no doubt developed a sense of entitlement, having watched their Bronx peers put the arm on the Yankees for a trust fund that will distribute $50 million over 40 years as the price of approving a new stadium for the Bombers. Up in the Bronx, they could at least argue that building the new Yankee home would entail a shift of parkland, additional parking facilities in the neighborhood and inconvenience for those who live hard by the stadium.
The Mets have none of those issues. They plan to build on a parking lot and forgo new parking garages. Also, virtually no one lives adjacent to the stadium. And the team's plans have been known for years, during which any Council member was free to dial up owner Fred Wilpon to discuss remedying the many ways in which the Mets have supposedly been victimizing Queens. Instead, what Monserrate & Co. are up to now is a squeeze play and an abuse of power.
I think my next call might be the Queens DA Richard Brwon to see if will investigate this extortion ring