Friday, February 23, 2007

Mayor Announces Schools/Stadium Initiative

Apparently there is an explanation for this, according to the following story:

Mayor Announces Schools/Stadium Initiative

February 23, 2007 (GBN News): Mayor Bloomberg, responding to reports of cost overruns for the city's new stadium projects as well as criticism that this money could be better spent on education, explained today that the cost was planned all along as part of an innovative new reform. The plan would involve combining the small schools initiative with the stadium projects by placing several small high schools within the new stadiums. While the Mayor released few details, he indicated that this project was developed jointly by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the consulting firm of Alvarez and Marsal.

Amid criticism by education advocates and City Council members that this group constituted a domestic "Axis of Evil", schools Chancellor Joel Klein defended the new arrangement. "This will be a true public/private partnership", the Chancellor declared. "and we are looking forward to having George Steinbrenner lecture at our Leadership Academy".

The schools/stadium initiative was questioned in several quarters. Yankee Captain Derek Jeter expressed concern that with Alvarez and Marsal involved, players might have to forgo their usual luxurious travel and would instead have to make due with Metro Cards. And Mets Manager Willie Randolph worried that with the ban on cell phones, he might not be able to put in a call to the bullpen when one of his pitchers gets in trouble.

In a related story, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and NBA Commissioner David Stern announced in a joint statement that, in an effort to set a better role model for the nation's school children, all teams, starting in 2014, will be required to finish the season over .500. Dubbed "No Player Left Behind", the policy would allow any player on a team finishing under .500 to transfer to a more successful team.

--- In nyceducationnews@, "Leonie Haimson" wrote:
Mystery of Stadium Funds Continues

Nearly a month after Mayor Bloomberg issued his preliminary capital budget, the mystery over cost overruns for the city's stadium projects remains. The mayor, it now appears, has attempted to tack on somewhere between $140 million and $226 million in added spending for the Nets, Mets, and Yankees projects-all without notifying the city council, let alone the general public.

To recap: When the sports troika was approved last year, the city indicated
> that taxpayers would be on the hook for $160 million in land and
> infrastructure costs for the new Yankees stadium (already a last-minute
> lineup substitution for the initial $135 million price tag), $98 million for
> the Mets, and $100 million for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, which
> includes a basketball arena to bring the Nets to Brooklyn. (State spending
> and tax breaks would add at least another half-billion to the overall public
> tab.) In the mayor's new budget, however, Yankees spending is now projected
> at $209 million through 2009, Mets at $172 million, and Nets at $205 million.

The city Independent Budget Office already revealed> last month (and city council sources have since confirmed) that the extra Atlantic Yards money is for such things as new water mains and roadways, which somehow weren't accounted for when the project was first
announced. As for city spending on the Yankees project, which will pay for building new parkland to replace that obliterated by the new stadium, as well as for demolition of the House That Ruth Built, the city at first insisted that it was still within its original budget.
> However, Parks Department spokesperson Warner Johnston recently told the Voice in an e-mail that an additional $35 million has been allocated to the project for "contingency funding and construction-related inflation"-in other words, cost overruns and the expectation of further cost overruns.

That gets us to $140 million. But what about the other $14 million for the Yanks, and $74 million for the Mets, that shows up in the mayor's budget? Johnston referred us to the mayor's Office of Management and Budget-whose officials declined to return a series of Voice phone calls and e-mails inquiring into the mystery money.
> City council officials are apparently getting no better treatment: One
> council staffer described OMB as "stonewalling" the council's own finance
> staff on the issue. Staffers for councilmembers Hiram Monserrate and Helen
> Diane Foster, who represent residents around the Mets and Yanks stadium
> sites respectively, said they knew nothing about the increased allocations.
> Lukas Herbert, one of the Bronx Community Board 4 members who'd tried to
> warn that the city would face likely cost overruns on its share of the
> Yankees project, says, "This is almost like an 'I told you so' - it just
> goes to show that once a big corporation like the Yankees gets an approval
> from government, the cost just goes up for the public." Not that, under the
> circumstances, being right is much comfort to Herbert, who lives three
> blocks from the stadium site on the Grand Concourse: "My alarm goes off at 7
> a.m., and within five minutes I start hearing the ping, ping of the pile
> drivers driving in those columns. And last time I checked, the school down
> the street was still falling apart."
> Leonie Haimson

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