Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Funding probe spawns subpoenas
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A New York Assembly committee investigating the use of millions of dollars in public funding to build the new Yankee Stadium has subpoenaed the team's president.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Democrat from Westchester County, said Tuesday that his committee subpoenaed Yankees president Randy Levine as well as city Industrial Development Agency Chairman Seth Pinsky.
Brodsky said the subpoenas compel the officials to appear for questioning at a hearing Wednesday, and to provide documents the committee wants for its investigation into whether public money should be used for the new stadium in the Bronx.
Brodsky's move was criticized by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office.
"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. "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."
Levine learned he was going to be subpoenaed Monday night, but had already rearranged his schedule to attend Wednesday's hearing, said his spokeswoman, Alice McGillion.
Officials for the city and the Yankees have already appeared before the committee and provided documents, but Brodsky continues to investigate. Brodsky said the Yankees and the city have denied him records related to additional public financing requested by the team.
Brodsky has accused city and team officials of secret negotiations that altered property assessments to make the deal legal and to provide a free luxury suite for city officials. Brodsky says the project won't create enough permanent jobs to justify the public funding.
Both the Yankees and New York Mets have asked the city for more public bonds to finance their increasingly expensive ballparks, which are scheduled to open this spring.
Both teams have given long lists of reasons why they want more public bonds, including construction delays, government requirements such as security and fireproofing, and design changes such as enhanced scoreboards and bigger food service areas.
The Yankees are asking for another $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds, on top of $940 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds already granted for the $1.3 billion Bronx stadium.
The Mets are requesting an additional $83 million, after the $615 million already approved, for their $800 million Queens park.
Last week, the Bloomberg administration said it would forgo luxury boxes, valued at as much as $850,000 for the new Yankee Stadium and up to $500,000 at the new Mets ballpark, following months of criticism about its handling of the projects.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has accused city and Yankees officials of secret negotiations that altered property assessments to make the new stadium deal legal and to provide a free luxury suite for city officials. Brodsky says the project won't create enough permanent jobs to justify the public funding.